Gen United

Biggest casual roster fails

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It doesn’t matter if you love the flexibility of being a casual worker or would honestly prefer to be in permanent work. When you’re treated well and given an upfront and regular casual roster, it can totally improve the way you think about your job.

Five million Aussies are in insecure work, the majority in the hospitality and retail industries. So it comes as no surprise that young workers aged 15- 24 years are much more likely to be employed on a casual basis than other age groups.  

Employers try to frame it that people in choose this lifestyle because of the additional pay and flexibility. However, the reality is we’re not usually given a choice. And many workers in this age group don’t realise casual positions come with fewer workplace rights.  

Although the 25% casual loading that you get as a casual worker is supposed to cover for not getting for sick and annual leave, it doesn’t cover you for insecurity. It certainly doesn’t cover you when you face some of these appalling casual rostering fails. How many have you experienced? 

1. Getting rostered on when you’ve already said you’re not available

You tell your boss weeks in advance that you have your cousin’s wedding to attend. You even remind your boss the week before.   

Yet when the roster comes out, there it is, a shift from 3 to 11pm on Saturday night, the night of your cousin’s wedding.  

Why is it that no matter how much notice you give, you still get rostered on the days you’ve requested off? Then your boss gets shitty at you when you say you can’t do the shift. 

2. Being punished (fired or reduced shifts) for taking a sick day

Despite everything we’ve been through with COVID, this is still way too common. There is still an expectation in some hospitality and retail workplaces that you can’t take time off when you’re sick. And if you do, well you get punished (like it’s your fault that you picked up a cold from that man who sneezed all over you during your last shift?!)   

A commenter on our tiktok said, 

“Someone i know got covid too much so his work never rostered him on again then he asked about it a year later and they fired him.” 

So I guess he should have gone to work and given covid to all of his workmates and the customers? Seriously, that’s so messed up.  

3. Last minute rosters

How frustrating is it when you get your roster on Sunday night for the week that starts on Monday. Not only can you not plan your life, but it also makes you feel pretty unimportant.   

When you get your roster last minute, it’s a dead set giveaway that your boss doesn’t give a rat’s arse about you or your life.   

When you hear talk about how great and flexible casual work is, last minute rostering makes it clear they mean for employers, not for workers. 

4. Irregular or not enough hours

You go through the interview and trial process, you get a job. Yay! Then they give you one shift a week. What now? Why did they even bother hiring you?   

Another annoying one is when you work somewhere where everyone wants more hours and then they hire ANOTHER staff member. You’ve got to ask, why?!

Or, the old ‘never know what you’re going to get’ roster, like this commenter,
“fr I either work triple shifts 6 days a week or one 4 hour shift.”

Meh, relatively consistent hours so you can plan your life and finances, who needs that?


5. Being rostered “on call”

Ok, we’ve heard of on call in the medical profession – when a doctor is required in case there is an emergency. But in hospitality or retail? I mean it’s hardly life or death.   

It’s not like they’re paying you to be ‘on call’. It basically just means you’re sitting around in case they have someone call in sick and they can call you at a moment’s notice. It’s always the day you make plans figuring that you won’t get called in that it happens too.


6. No proper start or finish times.

Have you ever had a roster that will just say “on” or “double” rather than outlining the times you can expect to start and finish.   

Or a boss who won’t tell you when the shift will finish. It could be 3 hours or it could be 12 hours. The boss decides each night what time they’ll send you home. 


What are the implications of crappy rostering practices?

We all know how annoying it is when you experience one of these casual roster fails. They can ruin our social lives, impact on our mental health and make us feel as though our personal lives don’t matter. But they can also have more wide-ranging consequences.   

Inconsistent shifts can have a destabilising effect on workers. It makes it more difficult for workers to unite around workplace issues and lowers the chances of them fighting other issues, including harassment, wage theft and exploitation. It’s often a deliberate and calculating move from bosses to increase the power imbalance.   

We know that casual workers are less likely to question issues at work, like wage theft, because it’s too easy for employers to simply leave us off the roster if we stir up trouble. That’s why we always encourage you to collectivise around issues at work – it might be easy to take one person off the roster, but it’s much harder for your boss to retaliate if everyone’s standing together!


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