The benefits of part-time or casual work are many: flexibility, time for life’s other commitments and a higher hourly rate.
Those who have waited tables or worked in retail while still a university student know the value of a part-time job – and the importance of every cent earned.
With more than 3.6 million Australians working part time, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, you would think we’d know our stuff. Not so, according to a spokesperson for the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Young people often don’t know their rights or are too afraid to speak up, making them among the most vulnerable workers.
“We often see cases of employers inadvertently underpaying employees because they classify them incorrectly,” said the Fair Work spokesperson.
Worried your job has been incorrectly classified? Use this website as a guide.
All part-time and some casual workers are entitled to 9.5 per cent superannuation on top of their pay. Retirement might seem like years away, but the super you earn and build now could make a big difference to you later on.
You’re likely to change jobs often when you’re young, so make sure you let your new employer know you want your super account to come with you. This form makes it easy.
Beware these common mistakes
“Your employer can’t take money out of your pay if customers leave without paying, if the cash registers are short or if you accidentally break something,” says the ombudsman’s spokesperson.
As for extended “trials”? Not OK.
“Demonstrating a skill, such as making a coffee, is OK – but you should be paid for all hours you work, including trial shifts, probation, meetings and training.”
Now, for some good news.
While full-timers have to “accrue” or save up annual leave (the standard is 20 days per year), casuals get to pick and choose.
The downside? It’s not paid leave. But – you can take it whenever you want.
As for those New Year’s shifts you’ve been considering: “It’s important to know your pay for overtime, weekend and public holiday work.”
A couple of public holidays and you could be swimming in summer cash.
Hiring and firing
While casuals have better flexibility and higher pay, they do sacrifice some stability.
If your boss decides they don’t need you for any more shifts, they generally have the right to let you go.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise your rights for fear of being wiped off the roster.
“You can’t be sacked or treated adversely for asking about your pay, conditions or contacting the Fair Work Ombudsman for advice,” says the spokesperson.
If you feel you have been treated unfairly, or simply want to brush up on your knowledge, here are a few good places to start:
- Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94
- Best Practice Guide for young workers
- “Starting a New Job” online course and learning guide
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