How Does Casual Nursing Work in Australia?

Due to the fluctuating needs of healthcare, many hospitals and health services in Australia have a casual pool to supplement core staff loads during busy periods and to cover sick or annual leave of permanent staff. Nurses in the casual pool don’t have a home ward or unit, they are trained in multiple specialties and fill-in where needed on any given shift. Casual nurses typically have scheduled hours like other full-time or part-time employees but nominate shifts according to their availability and work according to hospital needs, they often don’t know where they will be working in the hospital until they arrive for their shift.

An Australian midwife with an expecting patient
Casual pools employ all levels of nursing including Assistant in Nursing, Enrolled Nurse and Registered Nurse. Casual work may suit nurses with family care-giving responsibilities, those nearing retirement, or those undertaking study. Some nurses choose to work casually to supplement their full-time or part-time hours, for example choosing to work weekends on top of a five-day week. There are regulations around the total number of hours which can be worked in a week and permission to work a second job is usually required from the main employer. Casual pool nurses are expected to maintain their mandatory competencies yearly and most hospitals will require evidence of this.

Nurses working in casual pool say they enjoy the range of experiences and skills they gain from the varied placements. Casual pool nursing appeals to nurses who enjoy diversity in their working week and suits people who are flexible and adaptable. The downside to working as a casual pool nurse is that shifts can sometimes be cancelled, which can be particularly frustrating if a nurse has, for example, spent the day sleeping expecting to work a night shift and is then informed they are not required. There are different conditions around minimum notice and pay for cancelling shifts at short notice depending on which state or territory you are working in. Another downside is that sometimes casual nurses are assumed to be working casually because they lack experience or can’t get work elsewhere when in reality it is usually a lifestyle choice.

Casual nurses working in Australia attract a higher hourly rate of pay due to not getting paid sick or annual leave and other benefits afforded to full-time and part-time nurses. There is also no guarantee to the number of shifts they may get per week whereas full-time and part-time nurses can expect to work regular hours each week.

HealthStaff Recruitment currently has full-time and part-time nursing jobs available so check out our job board today.