The use of casual employees in Australia has been stable at about 20% of the workforce for the last two decades. These employees provide an affordable means for businesses, both small and large, to employ a contingent workforce. In turn, it provides employment opportunities to a range of people who would not be able to work otherwise, such as teenagers getting their first jobs through to stay at home parents wanting to supplement their household income. Casual employment is generally associated with a higher hourly rate (compared to their permanently employed peers), no provision for annual or sick leave (long service leave is an exception), and no notice for termination. While casual employment has a lot of benefits, there’s a hidden cost and risk if the nature of a casual employee’s work resembles a permanent job.
If a casual employee is working regular, ‘systematic’ hours, the law may construe their employment as permanent, making the employer liable for additional costs. One of these costs could be the financial liability for annual and sick leave (despite the fact that employee was paid a higher rate) as well as damages for unfair dismissal.
If you really need some of your casual employees to work like a permanent employee you can investigate alternative employment options like part-time arrangements. There are new types of part-time employment available these days like flexible part-time (e.g your ordinary hours of work may be averaged over a period of one to four weeks) and partial part-time (e.g work full time for 9 months and have the other 3 months off). In combination with traditional part-time arrangements, this provides employers with plenty of options to balance their resourcing requirements and the availability and desired flexibility of their staff.
While part-time arrangements provide a way to mitigate the hidden cost of a casual workforce, it helps to know which employees are in danger of working regular hours. One useful tool is a casual hours dashboard designed to 1) categorise the risk of employees based on their pattern of work, 2) allow you to drill down to the day to day details of their work and 3) then respond by changing their work shifts or employment arrangements accordingly.
The image below shows the landing page for a casual hours dashboard. Across the top are the count of casual employees that fall into the three risk categories for ‘regular’ employment. The meaing of ‘regular employment’ can change from organisation to organisation so the definition is included below each category. Below the definitions are the filters so that leaders from different areas of the business can confine the report to their relevant casual employees. Along the lower right is a spark line for each employee showing, at a high level, the pattern of their hours for each fortnight. This provides a way to assess how regular they are working and for how long.
From this landing page it’s possible to ‘zoom’ into the daily work hours for each employee. By clicking on an employee’s name you can move to the drill down page pictured below. This page provides a lot more detail as to how many hours an employee works, across which days and over what duration. It’s possible to load this drill down for all the employees that work for a certain manager or belong to a certain risk category.
The final page in this dashboard is a fortnightly summary of hours for all casual employees belonging to a certain teams. While dashboards are built to be interactive, it’s not always possible to work with your clients in front of a screen. This final page allows your to print out results from a page optimised for A3 printing.
If you seen another way to visualise this issue please let me know, also let me know if you have any questions about how you might be able to implement a similar solution for your organisation.