Casual work: Exploring the pros and cons of non-permanent jobs

Casual work: Exploring the pros and cons of non-permanent jobs
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 28 June, 2024

Casual work is rewriting the script of traditional employment norms in Malaysia. 

Over the past decade, the gig economy has surged, with a significant increase in people engaging in casual work. According to World Bank data, about 26% of the Malaysian workforce, which is roughly four million people, are freelancers.  

Casual employment is becoming an attractive alternative for people seeking extra income and schedule flexibility. This type of work typically involves temporary, part-time, or freelance jobs that do not offer long-term contracts or fixed hours. 

From students looking for extra cash to retirees staying active, casual work offers a convenient option. Side hustlers and those needing flexible schedules also find it beneficial. 

In this article, we will explore the topic in further detail. Here is what we will cover: 

What is casual work? 

Types of casual employment 

Difference between casual, freelance and part-time work 

How to find casual work in Malaysia 

Payments in casual work 

Benefits of casual employment 

Disadvantages of casual employment 

Other important considerations for casual employment 

Wrapping it up


What is casual work?

Casual work is a flexible and short-term employment option compared to traditional full-time positions. People looking to balance their jobs with other life commitments often favour this kind of job. 

Key features of casual work:  

  • Hourly pay structure. As a casual worker, you are often paid based on the number of hours you work rather than a fixed salary. 
  • No guaranteed hours or set schedules. You may not have a set schedule and may work irregular hours based on the employer's needs. 
  • Limited or no employee benefits. Unlike full-time positions, you may not receive benefits such as paid time off, health insurance, or retirement plans. 
  • Less stringent hiring requirements. Casual positions typically have fewer requirements compared to full-time roles, making them more accessible to a broader range of individuals. 

While casual work offers flexibility and the opportunity to explore different industries and roles, it also comes with challenges. You could end up having irregular work schedules and an unpredictable income. Additionally, the benefits associated with full-time employment, such as paid time off and health insurance, are often unavailable to casual workers. 

Despite these drawbacks, casual employment can be a viable option for individuals looking to temporarily boost their income. But remember to approach casual work with a clear understanding of its characteristics and how to leverage them effectively. 

A casual worker in a factory

Types of casual employment 

Let’s examine the various forms of casual work, from the more consistent to the sporadic, and weigh the pros and cons of each. We will define them, provide examples, and help you decide which might be the best fit for you. 

Long-term or regular casual work 

Long-term casual work offers a bit more stability compared to other forms of casual employment. It involves an extended period of employment where you remain in a casual capacity. It may mean you are clocking in a set number of hours each week or month, or your shifts follow a predictable pattern.  

Here are some examples of long-term casual roles: 

  • Administrative assistant: These individuals work part-time basis. They provide clerical support and assistance with various administrative tasks. 
  • Retail sales associate: In this role, individuals may work regular shifts at a retail store. They assist customers, restock shelves, and handle transactions. 
  • Data entry clerk: Data entry clerks may work on a casual basis. Their responsibilities involve inputting and managing data into computer systems. 

There are benefits to long-term casual work. You will earn a steady income, make friends with coworkers and clients, and maybe even advance your career. However, there are drawbacks to consider. These include the lack of job security inherent in casual employment and limited opportunities for career advancement or skill development. 

Irregular casual work 

Irregular, casual employment is just as it sounds — casual, but not on a regular schedule.  It refers to employment that lacks a consistent schedule or pattern. These are often short-term assignments where work hours can vary greatly from week to week.  

Examples include event staff who are only needed on certain weekends, or warehouse assistants who help when there is a staff shortage. Another example is food delivery riders, who may have a heavy workload one day and none the next.  

The benefits of irregular casual work include high flexibility to accommodate other commitments and attractive hourly rates. You also get to experience different workplaces and interact with diverse people. 

But, as with anything, there are some downsides, too. You have minimum job security, and the income can be inconsistent due to unpredictable work hours. Additionally, you may have limited opportunities for career advancement in such roles. 

Difference between casual, freelance, and part-time work 

Understanding the differences between casual, freelance, and part-time work setups can help you decide which one suits your needs and goals best. 

  • Casual work 
    ⁠This type of work is usually short-term or as-needed basis, lasting just a few days or weeks. You are usually paid by the hour and often do not receive benefits such as paid leave or health insurance. However, it offers flexibility, which is great for students, retirees, or anyone looking for extra income. 
  • Freelance work 
    ⁠Freelance workers act more like project managers. You must find the clients, set the terms, and manage your taxes and benefits. You get to have control over when and how you work. 
  • Part-time work 
    ⁠This option is perfect if you want to work fewer than the standard 40 hours a week. Part-time employees receive benefits like paid leave and health insurance. It is an ideal choice if you are looking for a flexible schedule to manage school, family, or other commitments. Additionally, it can help you ease back into the workforce after taking time off. 
A woman applying for casual work or casual employment

How to find casual work in Malaysia 

Let us break down the key steps that can help you land your next casual work opportunity: 

Begin your search immediately 

Casual work opportunities tend to fill up fast. Employers often have specific needs and timelines to meet. By initiating your search promptly, you enhance your chances of finding a job that meets your qualifications and preferences. 

Use multiple channels for your job search. Explore online platforms like Jobstreet, attend networking events, and reach out to connections in your desired industry. Being proactive and persistent in your search will significantly boost your chances of success. 

Craft an impressive resumé 

Even for casual work, a well-written resumé is essential. It showcases your qualifications and makes you stand out from other applicants. 

Here are some quick tips for crafting an impressive resumé: 

  • Tailor it to the specific job you are applying for. 
  • Highlight your transferable skills and relevant experiences. 
  • Use clear and concise language. 

A well-crafted resumé highlights your professionalism and commitment to the position, increasing your chances of securing the job. 

Convert your resumé to digital format 

You should have a resumé that you can easily share and view online. A digital resumé lets you easily share it with potential employers via email, online job portals, or social media platforms. It also allows for easy editing and updating. 

Consider using formats like PDF or Word documents, which are widely accepted and compatible with different platforms. These formats help maintain your resume's structure and formatting when viewed by potential employers. 

Network and seek recommendations from relatives and friends 

Networking is a powerful tool for finding casual work. Start by reaching out to your relatives, friends, and former colleagues. They might have leads or know someone who is hiring. 

When asking for references, be clear about the type of work you are seeking. Explain your skills and experience. A personal recommendation can help you stand out to potential employers. 

Do not hesitate to ask for introductions to others in their network. Use professional job search and networking sites, attend industry events, and join online forums related to your field. Building relationships can open doors to new opportunities. 

Register for job notification services 

Use online job platforms tailored to casual employment, like Jobstreet. These websites and apps feature openings across various industries. You can find roles that match your skills and preferences. 

Jobstreet's Job Match feature makes job hunting easier. The feature plays "job cupid" by filtering and suggesting new job alerts based on your skills, experience, specialisations, locations, and salary. Download the Jobstreet app and set up job alerts to get started. 

Maintain flexibility in your job search 

When it comes to casual work, flexibility is crucial. Be open to different roles, industries, and schedules. This adaptability will increase your chances of finding a job quickly because you will have more options to consider.  

Arrive promptly and ready for interviews 

Show that you are professional and dedicated by arriving on time and well-prepared for interviews. Here are some tips: 

  • Learn about the company and what the job requires Dress properly and bring extra copies of your resumé and important documents 
  • Be ready to talk about your strengths and experiences that make you a good fit for the job 

Being prompt and prepared will help you make a great impression and increase your chances of landing the job. 

Stay determined in your job hunt 

Do not let a few 'nos' get you down. Persistence is key for casual employees. Keep applying, updating your resumé, and staying in touch with your professional network. Do not take rejection too personally; stay determined and keep pushing forward. 

Payments in casual employment in Malaysia 

Pay structure 

In Malaysia, casual workers are usually paid by the hour. Their average hourly rate is between RM12 and RM30. Because casual employment often does not offer job security, employees can sometimes earn more per hour than full-time workers. 

Payment methods 

Cash payments are still used in Malaysia, especially in smaller businesses. However, most companies have shifted to electronic payment methods, such as bank transfers and online payments. This makes the payment process more convenient and efficient. It also ensures casual employees receive their salaries on time and removes the risk of lost or stolen cash. 

You must be aware of your payment rights and entitlements. That means knowing the minimum wage, overtime pay, and when to expect your pay. 

Keep tabs on your hours and payments, too. If you work temporary jobs and notice an issue with your pay, do not hesitate to chat with your boss or contact the right government office. 

A retiree enjoying her free time after her casual work hours

Benefits of casual employment 

Work-life balance 

One of the best things about casual work is the freedom and flexibility it offers. You get to decide when you work, so you can fit your job around your life, whether that is your studies, hobbies, or looking after your family. That is why casual work is so popular with students, retirees, and people who need to work around other commitments. 

Gaining experience 

Casual employment also gives you the chance to grow and explore new skills. You can gain experience in various industries and roles, thereby acquiring a diverse skill set. 

This kind of experience can open your options and make you more adaptable and attractive to future employers. Plus, casual work can help you build a network of professional connections who can help you look for your next job. 

Income potential 

Casual work is not merely about short-term gains; it can significantly impact your financial situation. With the flexibility to take on multiple jobs or work additional hours, you have greater control over your earning potential. 

Do you need extra cash for a special project or unexpected expense? Casual employment can provide the funds you need without requiring a long-term commitment. 

Variety and exploration 

Casual employment can be a stepping stone to something more: a chance to build a solid resumé and discover your passion. The experience you gain can be the key to unlocking a permanent position. You might even stumble upon a career path you had not considered before. 

Low barrier to entry 

Unlike permanent positions, casual employment typically demands minimal qualifications and experience. This makes it an accessible option if you are seeking immediate employment opportunities. You can swiftly enter the workforce and address your financial needs. 

Disadvantages of casual employment 

Lack of job security 

Job security is a major concern with casual work. When a company faces financial difficulties or needs to cut back, casual workers are often the first to be let go. The absence of guaranteed ongoing work or set schedules makes it difficult to plan ahead. This uncertainty can lead to financial instability. 

Limited benefits 

A casual employee often misses out on the perks that full-time employees enjoy, like paid leave, health insurance, or retirement plans. It can be tough to take time off when you are under the weather or to save up for the future without these safety nets. 

Lower earning potential 

Casual employment typically pays lower hourly rates than full-time positions. This can make it difficult to earn a living wage and cover expenses. It may also limit their ability to save for major expenses. 

Constrained career development 

Casual work often offers limited opportunities for career advancement or professional development compared to full-time positions. This can hinder long-term career growth and skill enhancement. 

Limited entitlements 

Casual workers might have fewer legal protections and entitlements compared to full-time employees. It is crucial to understand your rights and thoroughly review your employment contract. Being aware of these limitations helps you make informed decisions and advocate for fair treatment. 

Other important considerations for casual employment 

Taxes and deductions 

Employers usually do not take taxes out of your salary. If you choose casual employment, you will have to manage your taxes. To file your income tax as a casual worker in Malaysia, register first as a taxpayer, then complete the registration process on MyTax, and finally file your taxes using the e-filing system. 

Pay slips 

Always request a pay slip or record of your earnings detailing hours worked, pay rate, and any deductions made. This documentation is crucial for accurate record-keeping and tax purposes. 

happy warehouse casual worker getting along with her boss

Wrapping it up 

Casual employment in Malaysia is not just a trend. It is a dynamic shift in the employment landscape. It is a good choice for many people. It offers flexibility and a chance to earn extra money. Various individuals, from students to retirees, opt for casual work. However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consider your individual needs and career goals before making the decision. 

Casual employment is attractive because it provides opportunities to gain experience, explore different industries, and make valuable connections. The work can be challenging. There is no job security, and the benefits are limited. Nonetheless, with the right mindset and preparation, you can have a rewarding experience and potentially find long-term opportunities. 


  1. What does casual mean in a job?  
    ⁠Casual employment refers to flexible and typically short-term employment involving hourly pay without the same benefits and job security associated with full-time positions. It allows individuals to work on a non-fixed schedule, making it an attractive option for those needing flexibility in balancing other life commitments.  
  2. What is the work of a casual employee?  
    ⁠Casual employees take on tasks and roles that are often temporary and varied, unlike a permanent employee. These can include positions such as baristas, salespeople, servers, event staff, warehouse assistants, and food delivery riders. Depending on the specific job and employer's needs, the work may be sporadic or follow regular hours.  
  3. What is the difference between casual and freelance?  
    ⁠Casual employment involves short-term or sporadic employment with hourly pay, flexible schedules, and usually no benefits. Employers often hire casual workers to fill temporary needs, while freelancers operate as independent contractors. They find clients and manage their work terms, including schedules, contracts, and payments.  
  4. What are the advantages of casual work?  
    ⁠Casual employment offers benefits such as flexibility in scheduling, allowing workers to balance other commitments, gaining experience across industries and roles, the potential for extra income without a long-term commitment, and lower entry barriers, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals.  
  5. What are the disadvantages of casual work?  
    ⁠While casual employment has its perks, it also has downsides. These include a lack of job security and stability due to irregular schedules, limited or no benefits like paid leave and health insurance, lower hourly rates compared to full-time positions, and fewer opportunities for career advancement and professional development.  
  6. How can I find casual work in Malaysia?  
    ⁠To find casual employment in Malaysia, start your search early using online job portals such as Jobstreet, networking events, and personal connections. Craft a tailored digital resumé and seek recommendations from your network. Register for job notifications and stay flexible with roles and schedules to increase your chances of finding suitable work.  
  7. What should I consider before accepting a casual job?  
    ⁠Before taking a casual job, consider the pay rates, work hours, and job description in the written agreement. Understand your tax obligations and ensure you receive regular pay slips from the employer to track earnings. Weigh the pros and cons of casual work against your needs and goals, and evaluate the opportunity to gain valuable experience and make professional connections that could lead to future opportunities. 

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