Types of Employment


What's the difference between full-time and piece-work employees and everything else in between? It's important to know the difference so that you can have a combination of staff that best suits your business.
There are a variety of employment types that you can offer new staff including full-time, part-time, casual, fixed term employment, traineeships and apprenticeships

Full-time employees work on a regular weekly basis and are expected to work a full week.

Part-time employees usually work on a regular ongoing basis. They are paid on a pro rata basis. They are entitled to the following to:

  • annual, personal, sick leave and carer's leave;
  • be paid for public holidays falling on days on which they would otherwise be working; and
  • long service leave and bereavement leave.

Casual employees, otherwise known as freelance employees, are employed on an irregular basis as needed. They can work as many hours as agreed between the employer and the employee. They:

  • have no expectation of ongoing employment
  • are free to refuse offers of work
  • are paid a loading (a minimum of 20 per cent, but some awards provide for a higher loading), but no personal or sick leave or annual leave entitlement
  • are entitled to unpaid bereavement leave
  • long service leave provisions apply.

Remember that if an employee works regular and systemic hours and days for over 3 months, then it is likely that they are actually a part-time or full-time employee and should be treated accordingly. You should also note that paying an hourly rate does not itself make the employee a casual.

Fixed term or contract
Fixed term or contract employees are hired for a fixed period of time, for example, for a specific project, or to replace an employee on sick leave or parental leave.
You should provide the employee with an agreement in writing that sets out the length of the employment contract. Fixed term employees are entitled to the same annual, personal and other leave entitlements as full-time employees, but on a proportional basis for the period of their employment.

Apprenticeships and traineeships
Apprentices are generally training to be tradespeople, while trainees are generally learning the skills of a non-trade occupation. Both involve:

  • a registered training agreement;
  • practical work;
  • learning skills on and off the job; and
  • rates of pay covered by an award or agreement,

Probationary period
You can use a probationary period to make sure a new employee is suitable for the job. A probationary period can cover the first to six months of a new employee's employment.
During this time the employee's performance can be assessed and if need be their employment can be terminated. You should tell your employee about the length of the probation, how their performance will be assessed, and employer and employee expectations should be agreed in writing before the employment begins.
Probationary employees can be dismissed during the probationary period.

Piecework and commission only payment
Some employees, rather than being paid a wage or salary, are paid by:

  • piece work – the paying of a set amount for completing a specific task
  • commission – the paying of a percentage for each sale made
  • retainer plus commission - the paying of a fixed amount plus commission.


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