Do Casual Employees or Independent Contractors Get Vacation Time or Sick Leave?

image Casual employees are also called temporary employees or independent contractors. The term casual employees may be used primarily by universities in the US, and is used more frequently in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Canada. In Australia, the term casual employees is defined by the fact that workers do not receive vacation or sick time, and generally do not get to participate in pension plans.

In the US in most cases, casual employees and independent contractors do not receive sick time or vacation. They also do not receive health benefits, or have access to pension plans. However, some universities have made an effort to convert some casual employees to regular employees if they work a certain amount of hours per year, normally at least 1000 hours in a calendar year. For example Princeton University allows casual employees to have access to their pension plan if they work the required hours in a year’s time.

Casual employees and independent contractors do have some distinct advantages. They often have very flexible schedules that allow them to work from home, or to work only a few hours a week. However, in some instances large companies may seek to make employees casual employees in order to avoid paying benefits or offering paid sick and vacation time.

In Australia, new laws have allowed for casual employees to challenge their casual status. Yet the government found that only about 2% of casual employees actually petitioned to have their status changed. In many cases, casual employees are considered rewarded by making a higher hourly wage.

Casual employees often must experience the double-edged sword of freedom and extra money versus security. An independent contractor, who works from home for example, simply doesn’t get paid if he or she is sick and doesn’t complete work. Casual employees in the workforce may still work many hours, but time off means no pay.

Many permanent part time workers are offered both sick time and vacation pay based on hours worked. Casual employees, by not having permanent status, remain unprotected should they become ill. Many independent contractors work out their vacation time by working extra hours prior to or after a vacation.

Some companies, like Aflac, offer insurance to groups of casual employees. For a monthly fee one can receive compensation for injuries or illnesses that prevent one from working. However, for some people, it is difficult or too expensive to get Aflac and other types of insurance unless one owns one’s own company, or belongs to an organization of employees of a specific type.

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