There’s nothing like the thrill of starting your first casual job while you’re still at school. (well, apart from getting your first pay cheque). Of course, like most things in life, you’ll have rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

You’re not expected to know everything when you’re starting your first job. But you are expected to be punctual. To have a positive attitude, a good work ethic, to be reliable, and to be professional. This type of behaviour is part of your responsibilities as an employee. What’s more, it can be the foundation for a rewarding career.


Punctuality can be difficult for some teenagers. But when it spills over into your work, this bad habit can also damage your employment prospects. For example, if you’re consistently turning up late to start a job (even if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes), then this can become frustrating for an employer. Your responsibility is to be there ‘on-time’. Of course the opposite is also true. If you can be ready to start your job five or 10 minutes early, this shows an employer you’re keen and ready to start work.

A positive attitude

Often you’ll be working in a small team environment for any casual work. So the more you can demonstrate a level of enthusiasm and positivity for the work you’re doing, the better. You’re more likely to be welcomed by your work colleagues. Let’s face it, no-one likes working with people who complain all the time.

A good work ethic

If you’ve ever worked on group assignments at school, then you’ll know there’s always some students who’ll work hard. And there are some students who don’t seem to do much at all. It’s the same thing in the workplace – it comes down to your work ethic. It’s no coincidence that the people who work hard make excellent progress throughout their career.

Two young women working in a kitchen preparing food


If you’re given a task to do as an employee, then it’s your responsibility to do the job properly. Whenever you’re not sure about something, then don’t be afraid to ask – you’re not expected to know everything. But if you start cutting corners. Or doing things slowly. Or making the same sort of mistakes. Or calling in sick on a regular basis, then chances are you’re not going to be getting too many shifts at work. Employers need staff they can rely on.

Be professional

Whenever and wherever you’re working, you are representing a company. That’s why it’s important to dress appropriately, and to wear clothing that is clean and presentable. Also, if you’re dealing with customers, then you have a responsibility to be polite and courteous at all times. None of this is rocket science – it’s simply what’s generally expected of anyone who enters the workforce.

Casual or part-time work. What’s the best option?

Casual work is considered the best option for students still in secondary or senior secondary school. It provides flexibility with after-school commitments such as sport, study or exam revision.

Part-time work is a little more demanding – kind of like your studies. Students are eligible to work for an employee out of school hours during the week or on the weekends but there is less flexibility if you need time off.

If you really want to get a taste of the workforce and fast-track your career, an Australian School based Apprenticeship (ASbA) might be the perfect solution. In a nutshell, it’s an apprenticeship or traineeship that you do while still at school. So if you’re in Year 10, 11 or 12 you could combine school, employment and training in an industry of your choice.

Students researching scholarships

Casual job conditions and pay

Generally, an employer will offer a casual employee shifts on a particular day, and when offered, casuals can choose to either accept or decline the shift. This is ideal when you have school and sporting commitments.

Another benefit of casual work is you earn more per hour compared to permanent workers doing the same job. The extra income is called ‘loading’. Loading compensates casual employees because they don’t receive paid leave days or have secure employment. That’s the downside. Casual work offers more flexible work hours than other forms of employment. But the permanency of your job is less certain.

Workplace safety

Everyone has the right to a safe workplace free from bullying, harassment and discrimination. This is the obligation of the employer and it is also the obligation of the employee – that’s you! If you believe that you or other employees have been discriminated against in your employment, talk with your manager. You can also discuss the matter with your parents or teacher. More information about discrimination can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

More details about your rights and responsibilities in the workplace

We’ve only skimmed the surface of your rights and responsibilities in the workplace. If you’re in any doubt, speak with your employer, or contact the Fair Work Ombudsman. For more information visit Fair Work Australia.

Scroll to Top