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Understanding the different types of employment

Information on casual and part time work, work experience, sub contracting and probationary employment.

On this page:

  1. Full time  
  2. Part time  
  3. Casual  
  4. Fixed term  
  5. Commission  
  6. Apprentice/ trainee  
  7. Work experience  
  8. Probation  

You can be employed in a range of different working arrangements. Knowing about these different arrangements is important as the type of employment you are in can determine your rights, obligations and entitlements at work.

Full time

Most full time employees work 38 hours per week on a regular, ongoing basis. Full time employees are eligible for such entitlements as paid annual, bereavement, parental, sick and carer’s leave, and public holidays. 

Part time

Part time employees work on a regular, ongoing basis but work fewer hours than full time employees. Part time employees may work a set number of hours on specific days. They get the same entitlements as full time employees but on a pro-rata basis according to the hours worked.


A casual is an employee who may be hired on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. Many awards specify minimum and maximum periods of engagement for casual workers. Generally, casual employment is short term or irregular, and there is no guarantee of ongoing work or a requirement for the employee to be available for work. Simply being called casual does not make you a casual, many factors are taken into consideration in determining an individual’s correct employment type.  

Casual employees are eligible for long service leave, and may be eligible for parental leave. Casuals are also entitled to up to two days unpaid carer’s leave for each occasion that a family or household member needs care. Casual employees are not entitled to paid annual leave, sick leave or paid any public holidays. 

Fixed term

Fixed term workers are employed to do a job for an agreed length of time. Many employers hire fixed term employees to do work on a specific project or to fill in for employees who may be on leave. 

Fixed term employees are eligible for entitlements such as paid annual, bereavement, sick and carer’s leave, and public holidays.  


People whose services are paid wholly by commission are not classified as employees for the purposes of the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993.

People in this category may be paid on a ‘commission only’ basis which means they only receive money when they sell something or achieve a specific target. A person can also be appointed on a ‘commission and retainer’ basis. In this situation, the person may be classified as an employee and may be eligible for entitlements under relevant legislation and/or an industrial instrument. 


An apprentice/trainee is employed on a fixed term contract that enables the person to become qualified in a particular trade or skill through a combination of work and structured training.

An apprentice/trainee can be full time, part time or school based, depending on the kind of work that is being done and the training required.

The employer and the apprentice/trainee sign a training contract for a nominal term which is the expected time it should take to complete the apprenticeship /traineeship. The training contract outlines the rights and responsibilities of the employer and the apprentice/ trainee and must be lodged with Apprenticentre within 21 days of commencing work.  There is a probation period of between one and three months from the start date, depending on the length of the apprenticeship/traineeship.

An apprenticeship can be suspended, transferred or cancelled with approval from Apprenticentre. 

See the Apprenticeships and traineeships page for more information and links.

Work experience

The purpose of work experience is to provide students with the opportunity to gain experience in the workplace. It is unpaid work and is organised through a school, TAFE college, university or other registered training organisation as part of the curriculum or assessment.


The purpose of a probationary period is to enable the employer to assess if a worker has the skills and experience to do the work they were employed to perform. The length of probation is generally from one to three months and must be agreed prior to commencing work. Employment during a probationary period is paid and the employee is eligible for such entitlements as paid annual, bereavement, parental, sick and carer’s leave, and public holidays.