The trend to casual employment in the aged and disability care sectors is not a new one, but the last few years has seen a spike in its popularity as a mode of engaging staff. In the new realities of an NDIS and CDC world this trend will continue and increase in scale.
For providers… casual employment has a number of distinct advantages. It provides flexibility – with Consumer Directed Care now here to stay, your organisation must consider what is the level of permanent staffing you require to deliver operational services, while investigating how best to avail of casual employees to deliver all those services with varying levels and frequency of demand. Maintaining a permanent workforce will not be financially possible for many providers, with the control of choice and funding now resting with the consumer.
For employees… the big draw card of working on a casual basis is also increased flexibility. Without committing to regular and long hours, employees can pursue/perform other activities such as study, family responsibilities or alternative parallel employment. Employees also get slightly higher pay than their permanent counterparts to make up for the lack of paid personal, annual and other leave types.
What is a Casual Employee?
Casual employees are generally employed by the hour or by the day and are less likely to have regular or guaranteed hours of work. They do not receive some entitlements available to permanent staff such as annual leave and personal leave but generally receive a ‘casual loading’ to compensate for these benefits and for the insecurity of their employment.
It is more common than you think..
- 35% of the Australian workforce identify themselves as Freelancers.
- Another phenomenon worth mentioning is that of the slash (as in /) worker. These are the people who would answer the BBQ question of ‘What do you do?’ with “I’m a care assistant/photographer” or, I work with ABC Care and XYZ Care”.
- In the community care sector, 89% of employees avail themselves of either only casual work or a mixture of permanent and casual!
This shared workforce is what’s driving the sector now and into the future. Providers must embrace and contribute to it (see options below).
Where to from here?
It would be wise now for all organisations to
- undertake a workforce planning exercise to determine what functions, due to their infrequent and variable nature, can and should be delivered by casual employees.
- Ensure that you have the correct governance in place to manage the effective engagement of casuals – simple Employment Agreements, Time reporting process, Policies etc.
- Ensure that you are conversant with the conditions of the relevant industrial instrument as relates to the engagement of Casuals. In many cases this will the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010
Once you have determined what functions can be pivoted to Casual, it is imperative that all future recruitment within them are now for Casual Employees. For your current workers, the Award above does not have the provision within it to force a permanent employee to go onto a casual arrangement so the following options are open to you –
- Offer all affected employees a casual role. They must be given the opportunity to refuse
- As natural attrition occurs, replace designated functions with Casual workers;
- If a function has been determined to be Casual in nature and it is currently being delivered by a permanent employee, you should investigate whether or not this constitutes reasons for making roles redundant
- Explore partnerships with other providers to share a new or existing workforce
About Ray Fleming
Ray Fleming is the Principal Consultant with Ignite Talent, a boutique HR Consultancy. Ray is passionate about providing practical commercial solutions to people issues while assisting organisations in maximising the return they get from their most important investment – their people. Together with their workplace legal partner, JFM Law, Ignite Talent is working closely with the Community Care sector to help them solve some of the problems they are facing in this fast changing environment. Ray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0421 469 155