If you are a casual construction worker, at some point you have probably worried about being fired.
In the construction industry, projects and manpower needs constantly change, which can cause a large dependence on casual work to get by.
But are casual workers entitled to the same rights as full- or part-time employees? Further still, how secure are their jobs and can they be fired without notice?
As a general rule, an employee cannot be dismissed without due notice. Employers are required by law to give employees written notices of termination to prevent any legal liability.
This post takes an in-depth and informative look into the rights of casual workers.
Who Is A Casual Employee?
A lot of confusion occurs when distinguishing between casual, part-time, or temporary employees. In many regions of the world and some business circles, the terms can often be used interchangeably.
However, in Australia casual workers are clearly defined:
Under the Fair Work act, you are a casual worker if:
- you are offered a job
- the job offer does not include a consistent hours and places of work, and there is not commitment that these will continue in the future
- you accept the offer knowing this and you agree to work for them.
If an employer, for example, changes your working schedule every week, with weeks where you may not be considered, or there are times where you may be expected to work more or less hours according to the business’s needs, then you strongly match the criteria of a casual worker.
A large number of construction workers are prone to this form of employment.
They work at one or multiple sites at a time. Often they move from one construction site to the next as building projects expand and contract.
What Is The Difference Between Part-Time & Casual Work?
Part-Time work differs from Casual work in two ways:
- It has consistent or scheduled hours and places of work
- There is commitment to consistent work in the future
A typical example may be someone who only works 2 days a week from 9-5. Although they work less than a full-time worker, they are considered to be a permanent staff member.
Part Time Workers are not Casual Employees
Formal Warnings and Casual Worker Termination
A formal warning, in an employer-employee context, refers to a statement made either verbally or in written format. This statement is often recorded for record-keeping purposes.
A formal warning at work should clearly communicate that there are concerns about the way in which the employee is behaving. It should also indicate that, if the employee does not change their behaviour, they could face the termination of their contract.
However, contrary to contrary belief, employers do not need to give warnings. Notices of dismissal, however, are a legal requirement. The “3 written warnings” system is only an industry trend that serves to protect companies from unfair dismissal claims.
How Much Notice Does A Casual Construction Worker Get?
The Fair Work Act has no requirement to provide notice when terminating a casual employee.
However, the specific nature of requirements depends on part on your specific circumstances as outlined under the Building and Construction General On-site Award
Generally, if you are a casual labourer on a construction site you are not eligible for notice.
Select Building and construction General On-Site Award to get started.
If you are entitled to notice, Fair Work provides National Employment Standards for the lengths of notice each type of employee is entitled to – based on each employee’s period of employment.
If the employment contract fails to set out termination terms, then they are by default set to the following minimum:
- A person who has worked for their employer for 12 months or less is entitled to a minimum notice period of 1 week.
- A person who has worked for their employer for over a year and up to 3 years is entitled to 2 weeks’ notice.
- A person who has worked for their employer for over 3 years up to 5 years is entitled to 3 weeks’ notice.
- A person who has worked for their employer for more than 5 years is entitled to 4 weeks’ notice.
In these cases, the employer is required to pay out all outstanding wages and leave day benefits if applicable.
How Must The Notice Be Given?
If notice needs to be given, they must be given in writing. They must state the date of termination and the date of termination must correspond with the minimum notice period.
If the casual worker signed a contract, then dismissal must take place in accordance with the stipulations of the contract. This is as long as they do not breach the minimum requirements stated by the National Employment Standards.
Further, notice must be personally delivered to the employee, left at their last known address, or sent by post to their current known place of residence.
Most casual construction workers are not eligible for advance notice of termination – though this changes depending on your specific skill classification and if your working situation implies that you are not in infact a casual employee.
One way to protect yourself against the ups and downs of casual construction work is to make sure that you can easily pick up more work when you need it.
This is where Dragon Worker comes in.
We’ve made it easy for Dragon Workers to control when and where they work, and to show their availability.