Home Membership What's My Role? Qualifications & Training The Hub About APPNZ

Why are casuals so hard to understand? What defines a casual? How do you pay them correctly for public holidays? Why does HR and payroll keep getting this wrong?

APPNZ ran a special workshop to explore why there is so much confusion about classifying and paying casuals correctly. The workshop was presented by Bronwyn Heenan from Simpson Grierson and Erin Spence, a Senior Labour Inspector from MBIE.

Bronwyn started by presenting on what the legislation and case law define a casual as. The Holidays Act doesn’t actually mention casuals, it just talks about employees with hours which are “intermittent or irregular”

However in Jinkinson vs Oceana Gold, the Employment Court said that the characteristics of a casual include:

–short periods of time for specific purpose;

–lack of regular work patter or expectation of ongoing employment;

–dependent on availability;

–no guarantee of work;

–as and when needed;

–lack of obligation on employer to offer engagement; and

–lack of obligation on employee to accept engagement

Erin Spence presented next and said that when a Labour Inspector audits a company, they don’t look at any of the above. They look solely at the pattern of work. Are the hours so intermittent that you cannot predict if the day was a regular working day?

This raised that there is a HUGE disconnect between HR/employment lawyers and Payroll.

HR are often working off the legislation and case law definitions to argue that someone is a casual, however Payroll need to work to how MBIE identify whether a public holiday is a regular working day for a casual and therefore they should get an alternate holiday.

And so, this is the first NZ Payroll Standard that APPNZ has developed to provide clarification on how you can correctly identify and pay for casual employees  – what is a regular working day and what does a pattern look like. This standard is available for all APPNZ members.

Once completed, the NZ Payroll Standards will then be provided to MBIE and Inland Revenue and the Association will stand behind these for all members who use them.

Both Bronwyn, Erin and everyone attending agreed that the confusion about how to apply the Holidays Act needs to be fixed. The legislation isn’t going to change any time soon, but if there is a standard that we all agree on, it will make things much clearer.

What is a casual employee?

: People Matter

Keep updated on APPNZ

Contact APPNZ

Membership Options

Salary and Role Information


Bronwyn Heenan

Senior Associate,

Simpson Grierson

Erin Spence

Senior Labour Inspector, MBIE

more payroll articles