Forgetting casual staff could be a major mistake

EMPLOYERS have been warned not to disregard casual and temporary staff rights as more and more businesses move to recruit non-permanent staff.

Recent research shows 19% of Australian employers expect their use of temporary staff to increase over the next 12 months.

According to the Hays recruitment agency research, the prevalence of temporary staff will become more dominant in the construction industry where 24.2% of surveyed employers expect to increase their use of the non-permanent workers to rise.

While some employers may view casual staff as a "quick fix", employment law expert Ian Heathwood says businesses could be short-changing themselves.

Mr Heathwood, a Brisbane-based lawyer, said not all awards recognised causal workers and people in some roles could automatically be regarded as permanent after working a certain number of hours.

"Employers who rely on casuals to avoid certain legal responsibilities could be penalised if they don't fully understand and follow the laws regarding their workers," he said.

"Dumping a casual employee could get you sued for unfair dismissal or unpaid entitlements very quickly."

Unsurprisingly, research shows temporary workers in the public sector are also set to increase over the next 12 months.

The Hays survey, released last month, showed 20% of public sector employers expected a rise over the next year.

It comes after massive public sector cuts to full-time positions across state public sectors, including Queensland and New South Wales.

The survey findings stated the most dominant reason for temporary staff in the public sector was to a fill a gap while the government recruited for permanent roles.

Mr Heathwood said the downside for employers was a lack of loyalty and pride among causal staff.

"The other downside is an employer who relies on casual staff won't have the degree of worker loyalty they may want and staff are less likely to take pride in the quality of their work and be more prone to leaving after a short while to take another job," he said.


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