There has been long held and mostly mistaken ideas about hiring temporary staff in Australia. Recently there has been a bit of media reporting around the underpayment of staff in the hospitality industry. But don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s just café workers who are mismanaged.
Here are 5 mistakes you make when you hire a temp:
You think you can let a temp go with no explanation as to why
If you finish a temp assignment up because of conduct or performance, the casual employee may have the right to respond. This is particularly true of temps who have worked in your business for 6 months or more. Therefore if you have any performance or conduct issues with any casual employee, contact your recruitment consultant as soon as possible so that they can manage the situation for you.
You think that casual staff are not allowed sick or carers leave
Casual staff normally do not have rights to paid sick or carers leave, but under the Australian National Employment Standards, casual employees are entitled to up to 2 days unpaid sick or carers leave. In addition, casual staff are also entitled to take up to 5 days under the new Domestic Violence Leave rules. There should always be a process on how this leave is claimed and your recruiter will work with you and the temp to manage expectations.
You think you can employ temp staff for however long you like
FairWork has invested quite a bit of energy into looking at how businesses are using casual staff and with a number of legal decisions, they have made it clear that if a temporary employee has been working on a regular and systematic basis where they have an expectation of ongoing work, then that temporary employee has rights, which includes entitlements to leave and paid public holidays and to claim unfair dismissal.
In addition, FairWork has also made their intentions clear to update all modern awards to give casual staff the right to elect conversion of their temporary employment to permanent employment after 12 months.
To ensure that you are not suddenly in discussions with your recruiter about paying for entitlements or managing a messy unfair dismissal claim, here are some tips to protect yourself:
- Always ensure a temporary assignment has an end date confirmed in writing from the recruitment agency
- Never talk to the temp in terms of an assignment being ‘ongoing’. If you give the employee the idea that they will be there for an indefinite time, you are creating the expectation of ongoing employment
- If a temporary engagement needs to go past the expected end date, make sure any extensions are for a set period (i.e. have a new end date) and that the reason for the extension is clear, for example, the project end date has been extended / the permanent staff member has not returned from leave / the business still needs temporary staff to meet workload demands for a set period of time