03 June 2024

Engaging casual employees

Within the Australian dental industry, the utilisation of casual employees has become increasingly prevalent. Casual employment offers flexibility to both employers and employees, enabling dental practices to manage fluctuating workloads efficiently. However, employing casual workers comes with specific obligations and challenges. Understanding these obligations and implementing strategies to integrate casual staff into the team are crucial for fostering a positive work environment and ensuring compliance with relevant legislation.

As an employer, it's essential to be aware of obligations associated with hiring casual workers. These obligations primarily stem from the Fair Work Act 2009 and include the following:

  • Minimum rate of pay and casual loading - Casual employees are entitled to receive the applicable industry award rate. They are also entitled to receive a casual loading, which compensates them for the lack of entitlements such as paid annual leave and personal leave. The casual loading is 25% of the base rate of pay.
  • No guarantee of hours - Casual employees are not guaranteed regular or guaranteed pattern of work. However, they are often entitled to penalty rates for work performed outside of ordinary hours, such as weekends or public holidays. Employers should consult the relevant industrial instrument or the consult the ADA HR Advisory Service for further clarification.
  • Work Health and Safety - Employers have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for all employees, including casual workers. This includes providing appropriate training, equipment, and ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations.
  • Fair treatment - Casual employees are entitled to the same rights and protections against discrimination, harassment, and unfair dismissal as permanent employees. Treating casual workers fairly and respectfully is essential to maintain a positive workplace culture. Where the practice is wishing to disengage a casual employee, the business should consider the associated risk and reach out to the ADA HR Advisory Service for further advice.

While casual employees may not have the same technical engagement as permanent staff, integrating them into the team is crucial for maximising their potential and fostering a sense of belonging. Some strategies to help achieve this include:

  • Clear communication - Communicate openly and transparently with casual workers about their roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Provide them with clear instructions and feedback to ensure they understand their role within the team.
  • Training and development - Invest in the training and development of casual employees to enhance their skills and knowledge. This not only benefits the individual but also contributes to the overall success of the dental practice.
  • Inclusion - Encourage casual workers to participate in team meetings, training sessions, and social events. Making them feel like valued members of the team will foster a sense of belonging and loyalty to the practice.
  • Provide flexibility – Develop an understanding that casual workers may have other commitments, hence their engagement type, and be flexible with scheduling where possible. The practice should aim to establish an understanding of when and how casual employees can provide their availability, however in return, practices should aim to be understanding and accommodating of availability where possible.
  • Implement feedback opportunities - Establish regular feedback mechanisms to solicit input from casual workers and address any concerns or issues they may have. This demonstrates a commitment to their well-being and reinforces their importance within the team.

Employing a casual workforce requires careful consideration of obligations and proactive integration strategies. By adhering to relevant requirements and implementing measures to make casual workers feel valued and integrated, dental practices can create a positive work environment that benefits both employees and employers alike.

For more information on this article please call the ADA HR Advisory Service on 1300 232 462.