can a casual employee make a claim for unfair dismissal?

September 28th 2020

The short answer is no. BUT if a casual employee isn’t truly casual, then they essentially have the rights of a permanent employee, which means a far more robust, fair process must be followed to end the employment relationship.

To recap, a casual employee is someone with no guaranteed hours of work, and no regular or routine pattern of work. They work on an “as and when required” basis, with no ongoing expectation of employment – if they’re not needed, they’re not called.

But what if they’re not a truly genuine casual employee?

What if the relationship has developed into something more regular?

In many cases, the casual employee proves themselves indispensable with reliability and great work quality, so as more work comes available, more hours are offered, and before you know it, a regular pattern of work develops.

This is when a casual employee would start to have the ability to make a claim for unfair dismissal due to procedural flaws – simply, because the Court would rule that they were permitted to the same rights as permanent employees which means the employment relationship can only end with a fair process and good reason.

Technically if you are truly casual then your employment starts and finishes at the start and end of each engagement the employee undertakes, therefore you would be right to assume there is no relationship and therefore nothing to dismiss the employee from.

It’s important to regular review the work patterns that are developing to ensure you have all employees on the most appropriate agreements for their specific situation.


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