Common types of employment

Hiring employees can be an exciting time for a business. There are different types of employee to choose from, depending on your business needs. Keep in mind that the type of worker you decide on will affect your obligations to your employee and to the government.


Full-time employees work an average of 38 hours per week. They:

  • are entitled to paid annual, sick and carer's leave
  • are entitled to notice or payment in lieu of notice if you terminate their employment
  • can be permanent or on a fixed-term contract


Part-time employees work, on average, less than 38 hours per week. They:

  • usually work regular hours each week
  • can be a permanent employee or on a fixed-term contract
  • are entitled to paid annual, sick and carer's leave

Fixed term

A fixed term employee is employed for a specific period of time or task, for example, a 6 month contract. They are normally part-time or full-time employees and are generally entitled to the same conditions (including pay and leave) as permanent full-time or part-time employees.


Casual employees have no guaranteed hours of work. You do not have to give them a firm commitment in advance about how long they will be employed for, or the days (or hours) they’ll work.

A casual employee:

  • does not have to commit to all work you offer them
  • does not get paid annual, sick or carer’s leave
  • is paid a loading on top of their hourly wage

Shift worker

This type of employee works shifts and gets an extra payment for working shift hours.

Trainee or apprentice

Apprenticeships and traineeships are formal on-the-job training arrangements between an employer and an employee that can lead to a nationally recognised qualification.

As well as working and receiving on the job training, trainees or apprentices have to attend a registered training organisation, such as a TAFE or trade school.

In addition to employment obligations, you may have to pay for off-the-job training or training costs.

Read more about the different types of employment and employee entitlements.

Contractors and labour hire – non-employee relationships

You can also engage someone to provide services for your business as a contractor or through labour hire. People engaged this way are not employees of your business.

  • An independent contractor runs their own business. They usually negotiate their own fees and working arrangements and can work for more than one client at a time. For example, hiring a plumber to fix a tap in your retail store is hiring an independent contractor.
  • A labour hire worker from an agency is an employee (or a contractor) of the labour hire agency which provides the worker's services. If you engage a labour hire worker, you’ll pay the agency a fee for their services. The agency is responsible for providing their employees with their employment entitlements such as leave.

You need to consider a range of factors when deciding whether someone is an employee or a contractor. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ test.

Understand the differences between employees and contractors – it’s important to get this right.

Want more?

Check your obligations when hiring an employee.