November 28, 2017 FAQs Know Your Rights Member News News

“Congratulations, you have become a part-time employee. You start work next week”. These were the words recently uttered by the manager to her newest employee Sophie. Naturally, Sophie was elated and had already worked out how she was going to spend her first pay.
Sophie was so excited she immediately texted her friends and one replied with the comment, “what’s the difference between your job as a part-timer and my casual job at Macca’s”?

Because this job was Sophie’s first venture into the workforce, she had no immediate answer so she replied with, “Not sure”. Later on that evening she asked her mum her friend’s question as she thought her mum could provide her with the correct information.

How would you answer that question?


The major differences between a part-time employee and a casual employee are*:

  • A part-time employee working under an Enterprise Agreement has a defined roster which has a minimum number of hours and a maximum number of hours. This roster will include the days and times when the roster will be worked.
  • In most SDA Enterprise Agreements, there will be a clause which stipulates that the roster will not be subject to frequent variation from cycle to cycle. This is most important because this gives the employee the opportunity to have stability in their life. It helps the employee strike a balance between their work and their personal and family life.
  • In most Enterprise Agreements, there is a clause stating that rosters can be changed by mutual agreement. The SDA and Industrial Commissions have long stated that putting a roster change under an employee’s nose and saying, “this is your new roster”, does not constitute mutual agreement.
  • In most Enterprise Agreements, there is a clause which says the employer will not change an employee’s roster with the intent of avoiding payment of penalties or loadings or any other benefit applicable and should such a change arise the employee will be entitled to such penalty or loading or other benefit as if the roster had not changed.
  • The SDA has long held the view that a roster should only be changed to a maximum of four times per year subject to exceptional circumstances
    In most Enterprise Agreements, there is a clause which says when establishing or changing rosters, the employer will have regard to the employee’s family responsibilities, whether or not the employee can reasonably obtain safe transport home and in some Agreements, this commitment is extended to study and higher level sporting commitments.
  • Depending on the Enterprise Agreement, a notice period of between 7 and 14 days must be given if there is a change in roster unless there is mutual agreement.
  • If part-time employees disagree with their company over a proposed roster change, they can invoke the grievance or disputes resolution procedure.
  • Part-time employees receive, for example, paid sick and family leave, paid annual leave and the 17.5% annual leave loading, public holiday benefits and paid compassionate/bereavement leave etc.

Mum’s wise advice…

The above ten points are a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of the differences between part-time and casual employment. Sophie’s mum was not able to immediately give her daughter a complete answer to the question. However, she was able to suggest to her daughter to approach her SDA Shop Steward at work and receive an informed answer.

Sophie’s mum is a very wise lady.

* Please note: It is important to read the rosters clause in your respective Enterprise Agreement or Award to acquire a total understanding of this important employment entitlement. Your Shop Steward or Delegate will have a copy.