This content is locked!

To access this resource log in or Subscribe to Core.

Get instant access to 3 free resources of your choice. No credit card required.

Sign up now for free access

Casual workers

The use of atypical working arrangements, particularly the use of casual workers, has become increasingly popular with employers. Despite this popularity, the meaning of the term 'casual workers' is not defined in employment law and in practice there are wide-ranging views about what the term means.
To add to the confusion, employers often use the term 'casual' with both the terms 'employee' and 'worker'. This can create confusion about the legal status of the individual and the legal rights and protections that are available to them. Where the status is uncertain, this also creates difficulty in understanding the obligations of the employer.
There is no absolute definition of 'casual workers', or a universal model of casual working. The status of individual workers and the rights and protections available to them in law will be determined by the nature of the working relationship that exists with the employer.

Key points

  • The term 'casual workers' is not defined in employment law

  • The rights and protections available to a casual worker depends on the legal status of the individual in question

  • Casual workers could potentially be employees, workers or self-employed

  • The status of the casual worker may be determined by the contractual documentation. If no such documentation exists, it will be necessary to assess how the relationship works in practice

  • Where the contract does not reflect the reality of the arrangement, consideration should also be given to how the arrangement operates in practice

  • A key consideration in determining the status of a casual worker will be whether or not mutuality of obligation exists in the working relationship

  • Where there is no mutuality of obligation, a casual worker will not be an employee.

Recent developments

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act becomes law
Acas begins consultation on predictable terms Code of Practice

On 25 October 2023 Acas opened consultation on a new Code of Practice on handling requests for a predictable working pattern, following the passing into law of the the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act. More information is available in our 'in-depth' section.