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What is a Casual Worker?

Frequently Asked Questions About Employment


We’ve spoken before about taking on extra staff for the holidays, but in that discussion, we didn’t expressly talk about what a casual worker is – important to know, given how challenging our labour market can be to navigate for franchise owners and managers. Read on to learn more…

What is Meant by the term ‘Casual Worker’?

It’s outdated terminology which used to refer to people who worked for an employer for three days or less per week. With the introduction of our new labour laws, the concept of the casual worker fell away. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), 1997, defines a casual worker as an employee who is employed on a short-term basis, but only works part of a working week. Casual workers can be differentiated from part-time employees who are permanently employed, but only work for part of a working day (e.g. half days) or working week (e.g. a few days a week).

What are Such Workers Entitled to?

Any employee who works more than 24 hours a month is fully covered by the provisions in the BCEA relating to minimum wage, leave and sick leave, and rates for weekends, public holidays and working overtime. They’re also fully protected by the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Equity Act, and must be registered for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). Those who work less than 24 hours in a month are excluded from some of the provisions, for example family responsibility leave, but are entitled to other benefits on a pro rata basis – for example, one day’s annual leave for every 17 days worked, and one sick day for every 26 days worked for the same employer.

NOTE: If you’re unsure about which of your workers are permanent, part-time, contract or casual workers, do consult a labour attorney for clarification, and to ensure you’re fully complying with the law!