What are a ca­sual em­ployee’s rights?


Le­gal mat­ters Ca­sual work­ers are also en­ti­tled to four weeks an­nual hol­i­days af­ter they have worked for one year.

An in­di­vid­ual em­ploy­ment agree­ment sets out the terms and con­di­tions of your em­ploy­ment.

There are sev­eral types of em­ploy­ment – full­time, part-time, per­ma­nent, fixed term and ca­sual.

Of­ten em­ploy­ees on ca­sual con­tracts are un­clear about their rights and en­ti­tle­ments given they have no set hours and work when re­quired.

Em­ploy­ers can also be un­sure as to their obli­ga­tions in terms of a causal em­ployee’s leave and hol­i­day en­ti­tle­ments be­cause ca­sual em­ploy­ees some­times go weeks without re­ceiv­ing work.


Most em­ploy­ees are en­ti­tled to four weeks’ an­nual leave un­der the Hol­i­days Act 2003. Ca­sual work­ers are also en­ti­tled to four weeks an­nual hol­i­days af­ter they have worked for one year.

Be­cause ca­sual em­ploy­ees have no clear work pat­tern and their hours of work can­not be an­tic­i­pated, it is of­ten im­prac­ti­cal for an em­ployer to pro­vide ca­sual em­ploy­ees with four weeks of an­nual hol­i­days. In­stead, em­ploy­ers of­ten choose to top up an em­ployee’s wages with 8 per cent of their weekly earn­ings as an­nual hol­i­day pay.

That is known as a ‘‘pay-asyou-go’’ ar­range­ment, and should be in­cluded in the em­ployee’s em­ploy­ment agree­ment. The em­ployer should pay the 8 per cent hol­i­day pay­ment each pay day and it should be recorded sep­a­rately from the em­ployee’s wages on their pay slip.


Ca­sual em­ploy­ees may also be en­ti­tled to sick and bereavement leave. To qual­ify, ca­sual em­ploy­ees must have been work­ing for the same em­ployer for an av­er­age of at least 10 hours per week for at least six months.

If a ca­sual em­ployee qual­i­fies for sick leave, they will be en­ti­tled to five days’ leave an­nu­ally. If you are sick, but have not been work­ing for six months, you can still ask your em­ployer for an­nual leave or take un­paid leave.

Causal em­ploy­ees who qual­ify for bereavement leave will be en­ti­tled to three days’ leave on the death of their part­ner, par­ent, child, sib­ling, grand­par­ent, grand­child or their part­ner’s par­ent. For the death of any other per­son, the em­ployee can be en­ti­tled to one day of bereavement leave if the em­ployer is sat­is­fied the em­ployee is ‘‘suf­fer­ing a bereavement’’.

Pay for sick leave and bereavement leave will be at the em­ployee’s usual rate that they would or­di­nar­ily be paid on the day leave is taken.

What can you do if your rights and en­ti­tle­ments are not be­ing met?

If an em­ployer is not ad­her­ing to your rights, you can con­tact your em­ployer di­rectly to try to re­solve the is­sue. You may want to get ad­vice on your rights first or if your em­ployer does not agree with you.

In any deal­ings with your em­ployer, em­ploy­ees can take a sup­port per­son with them, per­haps a par­ent, friend, ad­vo­cate or a lawyer. If you are not con­fi­dent enough to raise your dis­pute with your em­ployer, your sup­port per­son can speak on your be­half at meet­ings with your em­ployer. They can also help with let­ters or emails and ad­vice.

If an agree­ment can­not be reached, you can at­tend me­di­a­tion or al­ter­na­tively take a per­sonal griev­ance claim to the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Author­ity. You can also ap­proach a labour in­spec­tor at the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment for as­sis­tance.

It’s im­por­tant ca­sual em­ploy­ees un­der­stand their rights and en­ti­tle­ments.

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