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Many employers hire Christmas casuals to help during the busy Christmas period. For example, you might require more staff to work the extra opening hours of your store or require staff to work Christmas parties that your restaurant is putting on. Whatever your requirements there are many issues you need to consider before bringing on your casual staff. Often Christmas casual workers are under the age of 18 years or university age. This article will also delve into some of the issues that come with hiring young employees.

1. How Much Should I Pay My Casual Employees?

You should know that many awards have different pay rates for young employees. For example, under the General Retail Industry Award 2010, the junior age brackets are:

  • Under 16 years old;
  • 16 years old;
  • 17 years old;
  • 18 years old;
  • 19 years old;
  • 20 years old employed for 6 months or less; and
  • 20 years old employed for more than 6 months.

These rates are often a fixed percentage of an older employee’s pay. Therefore, you must be aware of your employee’s date of birth and to select the correct award level and category for their role to ensure that you are paying the correct entitlements.

The Fair Work website has a helpful pay calculator that you can use to calculate each employee’s applicable pay rate. Awards typically have a pay levy on the base rate of pay for casual employees, as such casuals make more per hour than permanent employees.

The relevant award will also likely address younger workers and their specific entitlements. You should ensure that you are across these requirements to confirm that you are not breaching any Awards.

2. Do I Need an Employment Agreement For My Casual Employees?

It is sensible to have an employment agreement in place, even for casual employees. Contracts make the relationship clear and set out their rights as casual employees. It will also set out some benefits they do not receive. For example, that you will not provide them with annual leave and that you do not need to provide notice when terminating their employment. It should be made clear to the employee that the employment does not give them any guarantee of future work with the employer.

3. What Hours Can My Casual Employees Work?

The ordinary hours that a casual employee works (up to 38 hours per week), in comparison to overtime differs depending on the requirements of the relevant award. Usually, the award will set out the manner in which ordinary hours can be spread over a period as well as the span of hours over each day that is considered ordinary hours. This amount will differ depending on each award. Each award is also quite particular about mealtimes and breaks, and you should ensure that you work these into your employee’s schedule.

4. What Steps Should I Take When Working with Young Employees?

There are many practical steps you can take when working with casual young employees to ensure the working relationship goes smoothly:

  • Research the appropriate award, pay level and category of their employment;
  • Confirm any minimum ages that may be relevant to your industry or state/territory;
  • Take into consideration the person’s age and experience when managing their performance;
  • Make expectations clear – if this is the employee’s first job, they may not have a good idea of what is normal or expected in each situation; and
  • Note their age so that you can increase their pay as required by the relevant award


If you are hiring casual employees in the mad rush before Christmas, LegalVision can assist by providing you with a quick turnaround. We can work on any casual employment agreement, employee handbooks, research to confirm the appropriate award level and category or to answer any questions. Call our employment lawyers today on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form below.

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