Understanding Casual Employment for Creative Employers

Understanding Casual Employment for Creative Employers

Hey there, you fabulous creatives!   Navigating casual employment just got easier!  This blog is tailored to help you understand what is casual employment as well as flag the recent changes that have either come into effect or are on the horizon that impact casual employment commonly referred to as the “Closing Loopholes” Laws officially known as the Fair Work Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Act 2023 and 2024.  This blog is all about making sure you’re well-informed on casual employment, the changes underway to ensure that you are ready to adapt so that you can continue to focus on what you are great at and that's being creative.  

A Quick Overview of Employment Types 

Before we dive into the specifics of casual employment and legislative updates, it's probably a worthwhile exercise to get an overview of the broad categories of employment: 

  • Full-Time and Part-Time Employees offer reliability and stability, with set hours and access to a suite of benefits. 
  • Casual Employees provide flexibility to accommodate the fluctuating needs of creative projects, compensated with a higher hourly rate due to the absence of certain entitlements. Ideal for scaling your workforce up or down, depending on current project demands. 
  • Contractors work independently, offering specialised services on a project basis, distinct from traditional employee relationships. Perfect for brining in niche expertise for specific tasks operating under their own business structures. 
  • Subcontractors play a rather versatile role, the are often brought on to tackle specific aspects of a larger project or provide niche skills directly to businesses or other contractors.  They operate under a contract for services much like independent contractors, however, their work can also be part of a larger contract managed by another contractor.  They are great resource for scaling and diversifying your business operations. 

For more on the difference between contractors and employees check out our blog on that topic “What’s the Difference between an Employee and a Contractor”. 

IMPT: Engaging contractors and subcontractors means staying vigilant about legal responsibilities, such as potential superannuation contributions and avoiding the pitfalls of sham contracting, especially with the tightening of regulations that came into effect on 27 February 2024. 

Key Contracts

When you're weaving through the world of employment types, the right contracts are key. They not only define the relationship but also protect both you and your team. That's why having clear, up-to-date contracts for everyone, from casuals to contractors, is a must. To make life easier, we've put together a collection of ready-to-use contract templates in our template shop. Whether you need a casual employment agreement, employment agreement for your full time or part time employee, independent contractor agreement or a subcontractor agreement, we've got you covered. Also, don't miss our bundle deals for an all-in-one solution that’s kind to your budget. 

Now, if you're familiar with me, Riz, and how we do things at Foundd, you'll know we love grounding our insights in the real world. So, without further ado, let's dive into a case study that breaks down the various employment types we identified above with a good old case study!  Let me introduce you to PixelPerfect Design Studio, a name we're using as a pseudonym to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of the real business and its team. For the purposes of this blog,  all names of contractors and employees mentioned, have also been anonymised. 

 
PixelPerfect Design Studio – Navigating Employment Types for Growth and Flexibility 

Background: 

PixelPerfect Design Studio, a bustling graphic design and digital marketing firm, faced the challenge of scaling its operations to meet fluctuating client demands while maintaining a dynamic and creative team. The studio needed to understand the nuances between casual workers, full-time/part-time employees, and contractors to structure its workforce effectively. 
 

Scenario 1: Casual Worker vs. Full-Time/Part-Time Employee 

Jane Doe, Casual Graphic Designer: 

Jane was hired on a casual basis to support various projects, especially during peak seasons. She enjoyed a higher hourly rate with the flexibility to accept or decline work offers, providing her with the freedom to pursue other interests and gigs. However, Jane did not receive paid leave or have the same job security as her full-time counterparts. 

John Smith, Full-Time Senior Graphic Designer: 

John, in contrast, was a full-time employee with a fixed salary, annual leave, sick leave, and other entitlements. His role offered stability and a clear career path within PixelPerfect. While he appreciated the security, John’s work hours and conditions were more structured, limiting his flexibility compared to Jane. 

Impact: 

The studio leveraged Jane’s skills during high-demand periods without committing to long-term employment costs. John’s consistent presence and experience, on the other hand, provided the team with leadership and continuity for ongoing projects. 

Scenario 2: Contractor vs. Casual/Full-Time Employee 

Alex Rivera, Freelance Web Developer (Independent Contractor): 

Alex, an independent contractor, was engaged for a specific project to overhaul PixelPerfect’s website. With his own ABN, Alex operated his own business, negotiating his rates and terms. His work was project-based with clear deliverables, allowing for a high degree of flexibility and autonomy. 

Impact: 

Alex’s expertise was crucial for the one-off project, allowing PixelPerfect to access specialised skills without altering their ongoing team dynamic. This arrangement was beneficial for time-bound projects requiring niche skills not available in-house. 

Scenario 3: Subcontractor for Administrative Work 

Evelyn Hughes, Administrative Subcontractor: 

Evelyn owned a small business providing virtual assistance, including administrative and basic graphic design tasks, to creative agencies. PixelPerfect contracted her for a 6-month period to manage client communications and assist with project management tasks. As a subcontractor, Evelyn operated under her contract, determining her work hours and managing multiple clients simultaneously. 

Impact: 

Evelyn's engagement allowed PixelPerfect to flexibly scale their administrative capacity in response to project demands, without the need for a long-term employment commitment. It also introduced an additional layer of flexibility in how administrative and support tasks were managed, optimising the studio's operational efficiency. 

Comparing with Jane and John: 

Unlike Alex and Evelyn, who navigate their roles with more independence, Jane and John are embedded within the PixelPerfect team. Jane serves in a flexible capacity, working as needed on an hourly basis, embodying the adaptability of casual employment. John, on the other hand, in his full-time position, offering reliable support and consistency. Both Alex and Evelyn manage their own tax and superannuation contributions, with Alex bringing specialised, project-based skills and Evelyn offering a mix of administrative and creative services directly to the studio, yet they both operate outside the traditional employee framework. 

To sum it up 
 
PixelPerfect Design Studio's approach to building its team, incorporating casual workers, full-time/part-time employees, independent contractors, and subcontractors, demonstrates the diverse employment types for optimal flexibility and responsiveness.  

Casual employment brings adaptability to meet fluctuating project demands, full-time/part-time roles ensure steady support and continuity, independent contractors are tapped for their specialised skills on specific projects, and subcontractors, like those handling administrative tasks, offer a tailored blend of expertise and flexibility. 
 
Hopefully these case studies have clarified the distinctions among the various employment types for you.   
 

The Casual Employment Framework 

For creative businesses, casual employment offers the flexibility to scale your workforce up or down based on project demands. Here's what you need to know: 

  • Casual employment allows you to adjust your staffing needs in real-time, ideal for the project-driven nature of the creative industries. 
  • Casual employees usually receive a higher hourly rate, known as 'casual loading', to balance the scales for not having paid leave. 
  • While casual workers do not typically receive paid leave, they are entitled to certain types of unpaid leave for personal matters for those life moments that cannot be scheduled. It's crucial to understand these entitlements to support your team effectively. 
  • Rolling out the welcome mat for new casuals means handing a new casual employee a Casual Employment Information Statement (CEIS) ASAP.  It’s their guidebook to the casual employment scene.  See link to statement here. 
  • IMPT: If a casual employee consistently works for you for an extended period (consistently for 12 months), they may be entitled to an offer of permanent employment. This transition can be beneficial for both parties, offering stability to the employee and retaining talent within your business (further tightened by  
    “Closing Loopholes” laws). 

Legal considerations and compliance for hiring casual employees 

Thinking of hiring casuals? Here’s the skinny on keeping things cool and compliant when bringing casual talent into your creative circle. From getting casual loading right to making sure your contracts are crystal clear, it's all about playing by the book while keeping the vibe flexible. And yep, with the new 'Closing Loopholes' laws on the horizon (some have already kicked in!), there’s a bit more homework to do. But don’t sweat it; we’re here to break it down for you, ensuring your casual crew is all set, legit, and ready to roll.  

Having employment contracts in place that accurately reflect the nature of the employment is crucial. Your employment contract should clearly outline the terms of engagement, payment rates, and any other conditions relevant to the casual employment arrangement.  For a more detailed breakdown of what to consider check out our blog “What are the key terms you should include in our Casual Employment Agreement”. 

Legislation and regulations surrounding employment can evolve. Stay informed about any changes to ensure your business remains compliant and continues to provide a fair and supportive environment for all employees.  

Quick Overview: 'Closing Loopholes' Legislation 

Given the timing of this blog and recent legislative changes, it would be remiss of us not to mention the recent changes taking place in employment law land.  Below is a very quick overview of the key changes under “Closing Loopholes” laws that is relevant to this blog.  

Recent updates under the 'Closing Loopholes' laws bring about changes, including to casual employment, one of the aims being to provide clearer definitions and protections.  We have set out below some of the key changes: 

  •  Casual Employment Redefined: Effective 26 August 2024, the criteria for casual work will be tightened up, emphasising the lack of a set, ongoing work commitment. 
  • Permanent Transition Pathway: A structured pathway will facilitate casual workers moving to permanent roles, aiming for greater job security. 
  • Preventing Casual Misrepresentation: New rules deter employers from incorrectly classifying or dismissing employees to hire them as casuals under false pretenses. 
  • Higher penalties – increased financial penalties for contravention of employment laws.  
  • Contractors v Employee test - the legislation tightens regulations on classifying workers, specifically targeting the misidentification of employees as independent contractors, a key concern to prevent sham contracting. This mandates a closer examination of job roles to ensure accurate employment classifications. 
  • Gig Economy:  Introduction of minimum stances for independent contractors providing digital platform work – this is equivalent to “modern awards”.  This means that if a contractor has been engaged and is being paid below a minimum income threshold, they can raise a dispute under unfair contract terms to the Fair Work Commission. 

Comply with new employment laws 

Creative employers should take these key steps to adapt to the upcoming changes smoothly: 

  • Update Contracts: Check that your employment agreements reflect the latest legal standards, especially for casual and contract roles. 
  • Stay Updated: Keep an eye on new information from the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure your practices remain compliant as additional changes come into force. 
  • Talk to Your Team: Discuss the changes with your staff, particularly casuals, to build understanding and trust. 

For more information on this please visit the Fairwork website. 

Final thoughts:  Nailing casual employment 

Embracing casual employment can unlock flexibility and offer a strategic edge to creative business owners.  By getting an understanding of the nuts and bolts of casual work, being proactive, and committing to fair, legal practices will empower you to assemble a team that's legally legit. Keeping pace with legal updates ensures your practices remain sharp and compliant. 

Need guidance or support ensuring your contracts are as solid as yoru creative projects?  Join our membership, visit our Contract Template Shop or contact us for resources that fit the unique needs of your creative venture.   Let's make sure your casual employment strategy is legally legit.  

 

 

 

 

***Disclaimer. Please read!!***  

  

This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance. It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice. 

 

All rights reserved. © Foundd Legal Pty Ltd 


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