The union movement says it plans to push for a portable leave bank for casual employees.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions says heading into an election year it will also ask the Federal Government to legislate penalty rates for employees working outside their normal hours.
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver says the paid leave bank idea has already been set up in sectors including mining and construction.
"Our nation used to pride itself on the fact that if you were sick, you get a paid sick leave entitlement, and if you wanted to have a paid holiday with the family, you can," he said.
"But we can no longer claim that when we've got almost 40 per cent of the workforce that really don't get access to these entitlements.
"So the union movement's keen to look at what solutions could be provided." Mr Oliver says he does not have a firm view about how the casual leave bank would be funded and is open to ideas.
"We'd be interested to know what Tony Abbott and the Coalition's view of this is," he said.
"He claims that he's standing up for families, well I'd like to know what his view is about providing a paid leave entitlement so workers can enjoy paid leave to take a holiday with their family or to look after their children if they're sick." Acting Greens leader Adam Bandt has backed calls for major changes to the entitlements of casual workers.
"We've got one in four employees across Australia at the moment that have got no paid leave entitlements," he said.
"It means no sick leave, it means over these Christmas holidays they're potentially going without pay at all and it's a growing epidemic in Australia." But Opposition workplace relations spokesman Eric Abetz says the ACTU's ideas lack detail and are concerning.
"Clearly there would be another bureaucracy that would be quite expensive to maintain," he said.
"It is another impost on employers in circumstances where you've got rising employment." Business groups are also concerned about the impact on profitability.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson says the proposals would be bad for productivity.
"Portable leave entitlements for casual employees are part of a trade union nirvana that Australia simply cannot afford," he said.