How to Hire Holiday Staff for Small Business

With Christmas just around the corner, and the year’s busiest retail period about to begin, you may be looking to hire more employees to make sure your store can meet shopper demands. Hiring temporary staff over the Christmas period is a little bit different to hiring full-time employees. In this article, we cover the main things you need to know. Make sure you check relevant national and state laws relevant to your business.


Type of Staff to Hire

The first thing you’ll need to decide when looking for holiday staff is what kind of employees you would like to hire. Many stores choose to hire casual employees for the holiday period, often referred to as Christmas Casuals.

Casual staff can help provide extra support during the busy Christmas period

For those looking for Christmas staff to transition into ongoing employees, part-time or full-time staff may be more appropriate.


Hiring Staff

When hiring employees for the Christmas period, it’s best to start advertising well ahead of time in order to secure the best staff. Some companies start advertising as early as July, and most are hiring no later than early November.ii Don’t forget that you’ll need to leave time to evaluate applications, and conduct interview and reference checks.iii You can advertise online, but if you’re looking for staff in your local area, also consider the newspaper.

When hiring staff, among the things you’ll need to check are that they are legally allowed to work in Australia, and whether you need to register for PAYG withholding or payroll tax.iv If your employee is on a working holiday visa, you’ll also need to register as an employer of working holiday makers.

You may also need to consider whether your business insurance covers you for an increase in employees, and you may want to call to check this with your insurance company.*

*Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL 234708 underwrites the general ‎insurance cover. We do not provide advice based on any consideration of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Policy terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Before making a decision please consider the relevant product disclosure statement, available online at https://www.allianz.com.au/my-allianz/policy-documents/


Staff Entitlements

All employees are entitled to certain rights, as set by the National Employment Standards.v These entitlements range from minimum sick and compassionate leave, to maximum working hours and public holidays. Casual employees are entitled to some but not all entitlements under the National Employment Standards. Employees may also be entitled to receive an award wage. It’s important to check the entitlements for the type of employee you have hired.

For the Christmas season, one of the most important entitlements concerns public holidays. Employees don’t have to work on a public holiday; however you can ask your employee to work on a public holiday if the request is reasonable.vi For this reason, it’s best to discuss the prospect of working on public holidays with potential staff before you hire them, and make sure it is something they are happy to do.


The First Day

When a new employee starts with you, there’s a lot you’ll need to think about before the first day. Among other things, you’ll need to sort out their tax file declaration, super, and induction training.

To assist you through the process, we recommend you look at this hiring checklist from Business.gov.au. There’s also this useful checklist from the ATO that covers what you might need to do if you’re hiring an employee for the first time.


  1. Business Victoria, Employment Types and Hiring Options, accessed September 2018, http://www.business.vic.gov.au/hiring-and-managing-staff/employment-types
  2. News.com.au, It’s Christmas in July for jobseekers wanting an end-of-year casual role, accessed September 2018, https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/careers/its-christmas-in-july-for-jobseekers-wanting-an-endofyear-casual-role/news-story/adcfe480194757257c7b2379ec7ce728
  3. Business.gov.au, Hiring People, accessed September 2018, https://www.business.gov.au/new-to-business-essentials/series-two/hiring-people
  4. ATO, Hiring Workers for the First Time – Checklist, accessed September 2018, https://www.ato.gov.au/business/your-workers/hiring-workers-for-the-first-time---checklist/
  5. Fair Work Ombudsman, National Employment Standards, accessed September 2018, https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/national-employment-standards
  6. Fair Work Ombudsman, Working on Public Holidays, accessed September 2018, https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/public-holidays/working-on-public-holidays