Many casual employees are happy with the flexibility and variety of their work, according to Glenn Redman, CEO of workforce planning company APG Workforce. He said casual employment often gets a bad rap when it suits plenty of workers.
“About 25 per cent of the Australian workforce is casual and that number has remained relatively steady for about 20 years,” he said.
“From our experience of placing thousands of workers in casual roles, they are happy to receive work in areas close to home with many of them working the hours that meet their needs.".
Casual employees in Australia are paid a higher hourly rate of pay to compensate them for leave type entitlements. Most employment awards mandate a 25 per cent loading to cover entitlements, plus other labour protections.
“For many years, scaremongers have warned of the perils of insecure work, Redman said. “The claim is that many Australian workers are subject to unpredictable and fluctuating pay, irregular and unpredictable working hours, inferior rights and entitlements, lack of certainty over job continuity, and a general lack of control over their working situation. From our experience, when working for a legitimate company this is simply no longer the case.”
Since late-2018, most awards now contain clauses that give some casual employees who have worked a regular pattern of hours over a 12-month period the right to request conversion to permanent employment.
Many businesses offer casual positions to top up peaks and irregular work patterns, but APG Workforce has found from its experience that very few of them take up this opportunity.
“We believe this is because they are happy to trade off the structured, locked in benefits of a permanent position in return for the immediate casual wage premium.” Redman said.
“Our workers still receive training, safe working conditions, and benefits like superannuation and insurance, but they have flexibility. Good casual workers are no different to us than good permanent employees. If they are reliable, honest, and conscientious they will do well with an employer. And conversely, a good employer that treats its people well, both permanent and casual, they will attract quality workers.
“As we emerge from the Covid pandemic we see the use of casual labour in Australia accelerating to meet fluctuating requirements. It will play a key role in our recovery in the post-Covid workforce.
“We believe the industry sectors that are likely to take longer to recover are the banking, finance, and insurance sectors, mining, government, and defence. Healthcare, logistics and construction are likely to see the fastest recovery. Regional agricultural businesses will have a huge shortfall of traditionally used overseas backpackers to fill jobs in peak periods, which gives an opportunity to renew local interest in this sort of the work again,” Redman said.
“The major advantage that an agency workforce has over a permanent workforce is flexibility. The uncertainty and lack of confidence that the pandemic will leave behind will drive business towards flexible labour solutions. Businesses will need labour of the quantity it needs, of the quality it needs, for the time it needs, and of the skill sets it needs.”