With Christmas shopping lists getting longer and longer, retail stores are starting to get busier and busier. Many retail businesses employ extra staff for the Christmas period to manage their customers who are enjoying the Christmas specials. The employment is usually for a short period and employees are typically hired on a casual basis. As an employer, it is important that you understand what your obligations are to your employees and what you need to consider when hiring Christmas casual employees.

There are no special rules about hiring a Christmas casual. Your obligations to the employee under employment law are the same as they would be to any casual employee.

What is a ‘Casual’ Employee?

A casual employee is someone whose work hours may vary each week. Unlike part-time or full-time employees, a casual employee is not entitled to paid sick leave or annual leave.

Term of Employment – Just for the Christmas Period?

Is the worker employed for the Christmas period only? If this is the case, it is sensible to define what your business considers the Christmas period so that the term of their employment is fixed.

The employee can still terminate their employment before the end of the Christmas period as defined by your business. Casual employees can terminate their employment at any time and do not have to give notice when ending their employment. You should keep this in mind when you are employing your casual staff, as well as when you are preparing your Casual Employment Contract. You may be able to add a clause in the contract that requires the employee to give you notice.

Rate of Pay

Casual employees are entitled to a higher hourly rate of pay than full-time or part-time employees in a similar role because they don’t get paid sick leave or annual leave. This higher hourly rate is called casual loading, and each Award may have different requirements as to how much more employers need to pay their casual employees. Make sure you know which Award applies to your casuals, as each Award may have specific requirements.

Many businesses often keep Christmas casuals on as regular casual employees after the Christmas season is over. If you do continue to employ a casual worker, be aware of your obligations. A casual employee who has worked with you for at least 12 months has different entitlements to a short-term casual employee. Similarly, you could decide to change their employment from casual to part-time or full-time. Make sure you have an employment contract that outlines the employment relationship appropriately.


If you need to prepare an Employment Contract for Christmas casuals, it is sensible first to reach out to an employment lawyer. A lawyer will be able to draft the employment contract to protect your business, and sets out the legal relationship between your business and employees. If you are unsure of what Award applies to your employees, a lawyer can assist you in ensuring you meet your requirements under Australian employment law.

Questions? Please get in touch on 1300 544 755. 

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Dhanu Eliezer

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