Recruiting casual academic staff

Recruiting casual academic staff

A casual academic staff member is engaged and paid by the hour. Macquarie University employs casual staff to assist with peak work periods, temporary work assignments and where there is an irregular pattern of work.

Use this process when recruiting a new casual academic staff member (see Casual Academic Recruitment Process Map). If you are reappointing an existing casual staff member, simply follow the casual reappointment process.


Determine position requirements and selection criteria

Sample Selection Criteria for an Academic Casual Lecturer:

  • Successful track record in developing and delivering unit material in the discipline of X
  • Demonstrated academic knowledge in X or a relevant discipline
  • Demonstrated commitment and ability to enhancing the student experience
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills including the ability to interact with a diverse range of students and stakeholders

Sample Selection Criteria for an Academic Casual Tutor:

  • Demonstrated academic knowledge in X or a relevant discipline
  • Track record of effectively tailoring and delivering material to a group of diverse students
  • Demonstrated ability to facilitate learning in a tutorial environment
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills including the ability to interact with a diverse range of students and stakeholders

Obtain funding approval

Follow your local department/ Faculty funding approval process for the casual appointment.

Determine how you will source candidates

There are a number of options available to source a casual academic staff member:

  • Existing casual staff members - these are staff who are or have been recently (last 2 years) employed by the department or more broadly the faculty or university
  • Individuals from a Department pool (please refer to your Department Manager or Administrator if you are unsure if the department operates a pool)
  • Advertising the casual opportunity - this involves the development of advertising copy for the role and posting this on the Macquarie University Job Opportunity Website and external job boards. Your HR Client Team membercan assist with the development of advertisement copy.
  • Department networks - this involves discussions with department staff regarding potential suitably qualified and experienced individuals which may include existing professional relationships and HDR students


If you decide to advertise, contact your HR Client Team representative to advertise the casual position on the Macquarie University Job Opportunity Website, or to develop an expressions of interest process. For more information, see Sourcing candidates.


Form a selection panel

When choosing a staff member to run the interviews, ensure they have sufficient knowledge, experience and expertise to reasonably assess the candidate against role requirements.

It is preferred that two staff members conduct a short interview with the candidate. It is accepted, however, that only one staff member may be available to conduct an interview due to resource constraints, and this is acceptable for satisfying the requirements of the casual recruitment process.

It's also important to:

  • Ensure gender balance on the selection panel as far as practicable
  • Include people from diverse backgrounds (i.e.Indigenous Australians, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgroundsand people with disabilities) as appropriate to the circumstances

Suggested selection panel composition



Recommended second panel member

Casual Lecturer

  • Unit Convenor
  • Another academic staff member with sufficient   knowledge and expertise in the unit
  • Department Administrator

Casual Tutor

  • An academic staff member in the unit with   sufficient knowledge and expertise
  • Unit Convenor
  • Department Administrator

Review resumes and/or applications

For tips on assessing applications and creating a shortlist refer to Selecting candidates.

Notify non-shortlisted applicants

It is important to let non-shortlisted applicants know the outcome of their application. A member of the selection panel should email unsuccessful applicants.

Contact your HR Client Team Member if you would like an email template for notifying unsuccessful applicants.

Conduct interview / assessment

Prepare interview questions. Refer to tips on developing interview questions and Interview Questions Bank for examples of interview questions.

Let the candidates know the details of the interview, including:

  • date, time and location of the interview
  • who will be interviewing them
  • directions to the interview venue
  • any preparation requirements (if applicable).

Use Interview Guide template to help structure an effective interview, record notes and evaluate the suitability of a candidate.


Perform reference checks

Reference checking is a critical part of the casual academic selection process. It is an opportunity to verify information provided by the candidate in their application and the interview process.

At least one reference must to be checked (via phone or email exchange) and recorded for the casual academic candidate.

Use the following forms for conducting reference checks:

A completed reference check form should be provided to your Payroll representative along with the other new starter documents to set up an appointment.

Perform qualification checks

As part of ensuring students have a quality educational experience, we need to ensure that appropriately qualified staff are delivering the course content, advising and assessing students.

Accordingly, it is important that the department administrator or member of the selection panel check and verify relevant qualifications for successful candidates:

  • Request the original highest relevant qualification from the successful candidate
  • Photocopy, sign and date that you sighted the original
  • Submit the signed copy to Payroll as part of the casual appointment paperwork

Check right to work in Australia

To fulfil our legal obligations as an employer, we need to obtain evidence that all our staff have the legal right to work in Australia.

For successful candidates, please sight the originals of one of the following documents as proof of their identity and right to work in Australia:

  • a valid Australian passport
  • a full Australian birth certificate (born before 20 August 1986)
  • a full Australian birth certificate (born after 20 August 1986), showing that at least one parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of the child's birth
  • an Australian citizenship certificate, evidence of Australian permanent resident status or a valid New Zealand passport
  • a foreign passport with an appropriate visa which gives them permission to work in Australia

You will need to:

  • Photocopy the document, and sign and date that you sighted the original
  • Submit the signed copy to Payroll as part of the casual appointment paperwork

Visas and work rights

Visa type

Guideline on work rights

457 visa

Please be aware that individuals on a 457 visa are not eligible to be employed as casual staff members (academic or professional) by the University. This includes both individuals not employed by the University and staff currently employed on fixed-term or continuing contracts.

573 Student Visas

The primary 573 visa holder must not engage in any work before their course of study in Australia commences.

After the course of study commences the primary 573 visa holder must not engage in work in Australia for more than 40 hours per fortnight while the course of study is in session. Generally speaking, a course is considered to be "in session" for the duration of the education provider's advertised semesters (including periods when exams are being held).

An exception is that the visa holder may work an unlimited number of hours if the work is a registered component of the course.

574 Student Visas

The primary 574 visa holder has unrestricted work rights, provided they have commenced their Masters degree by research or PhD. These unrestricted work rights extend to any period during which the thesis is being marked.

Secondary 573 or 574 visa holders

Secondary 573 or 574 visa holders may work:

  • 40   hours per fortnight at all times provided the primary student visa holder has   commenced their Bachelor degree in Australia.
  • unrestricted   hours provided the primary student visa holder has commenced their Masters (by   coursework or thesis) or PhD degree in Australia.

For more information on visas and work rights, contact the University’s Immigration and Relocation Consultant on 9850 9744.

Contact preferred candidate(s)

After conducting reference checks, contact the preferred candidate(s) to discuss the expected work opportunity.

Do say:

  • Let them know they are the preferred candidate
  • Confirm they are still interested in the casual work opportunity
  • Reiterate the anticipated details of engagement
  • Confirm next steps


  • Entering into a verbal employment contract
  • Making undertakings or commitments that do not have faculty or department approval

Compete appointment form

To make a new casual academic appointment:

  • Complete Casual Appointment Form
  • Obtain required approvals
  • Email the approved form and copies of supporting documents (as per the checklist on the form) to Payroll

Important considerations

Conflict of interest

There will be a conflict of interest when a prospective casual employee is a family member, or in a close personal relationship with the staff member, if:

  • the staff member is involved in the selection decision, and/or
  • the staff member is in a supervisory relationship to the casual employee.

The conflict of interest is to be declared to the staff member's supervisor.

The supervisor will make amendments to the selection process, interview panel or impose acceptable supervisory arrangements, as appropriate.

Duty of care and hours of work

It is important to ensure that casual academic staff are engaged on workloads and a schedule that is reasonable and provides time to deliver a positive student experience.

Things to consider:

  • Other work commitments the individual has both at Macquarie and outside the University
  • If the individual is a Macquarie University student, ensuring a balance between study requirements and work commitments
  • Is the individual on a visa? What are the visa conditions regarding hours of work?

Guidelines for hours of work:

  • Limiting the teaching span to up to 9 hours on any given day
  • A gap of 12 hours between teaching evening classes and commencing morning classes the following day
  • As a guideline, hours of work for research candidates should take no more than 14 hours per week for full-time scholarship holders and 20 hours for other research candidates.

Frequently asked questions

I have a tutorial or lecture that I need resourced at extremely short notice and do not have time to follow this process. What should I do?

While every effort should be made to follow the recruitment process for casual academic staff, it is recognised that on occasion extraordinary or unusual circumstances may prevent this from occurring.

If you can demonstrate a genuine effort has been made to undertake the established process, you may seek an exemption from an appropriate position of authority e.g. Associate Dean Learning & Teaching, your HR Client Team Manager or your Head of Department.

Exemption will be subject to the below conditions aimed to minimise risk and focus on a quality learning experience for university students:

  • Qualifications and Right to Work in Australia are checked.
  • The engagement period is limited to the forthcoming semester only (further engagement is subject to undertaking the recruitment process outlined for casual academics).
  • Performance is reviewed after 2 weeks (e.g. appropriate person sitting in a lecture or tutor session, student feedback, etc.)

I wish to host an academic or industry professional for a one-off lecture or demonstration, do I need to follow the same process?

No, one off and guest lecturers are exempt from the new process.

Are there any restrictions on the number of hours that an HDR student can work?

As a guideline, the University recommends paid employment for research candidates should take no more than 14 hours per week for full time scholarship holders and 20 hours for all other candidates.


Reference Check - Casual Academic Lecturer
Reference Check - Casual Academic Tutor

Appointment - Casual Academic Staff (PDF)
Appointment - Casual Academic Staff - Full Unit Delivery (FBE only) (PDF)
Appointment - Casual MUIC Teaching Staff (PDF)

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