Our economy is performing well and the unemployment rate stands at a 5% low. Yet 40% of Australian workers are now employed in contract and casual work.
These people have little or no job security, have no rights to take holidays or sick leave, are paid varying amounts each week and often have little control over when they work and for how long.
For many, this impacts on family life and puts additional stress on already stretched households trying to keep on top of rent, groceries and electricity bills. Others struggle to be taken seriously when applying for a car or home loan or can’t take up childcare due to the inconsistency of their hours.
Business says that casual work gives you a choice. That’s true for some people who don’t want a long-term job. But for many more Australians, casual work is not a choice – it is all they can get.
More than one million contractors are still employed casually after a year in the job and another fifteen per cent have been in their job for more than five years. They earn on average over 20% less than permanent full-time workers over a 35-hour week and can be sacked at short notice with no redundancy pay.
There are high numbers of casual labourers, chefs, waiters and bar staff. Even 16% of teachers are now on short-term contracts with no job security.
These workers should be entitled to the same rights, entitlements and certainty as their permanent colleagues doing the same job.
They should have the choice of permanency so they can better plan for their future.
Australians don’t want a society where short-term, insecure work is the norm. We want a society where everyone has the right to a permanent job – to feel secure in their work, to grow their career, to support their family and own their own home.
All workers should be sharing in the benefits of a strong Australian economy and should have the right to certainty in their working life.