Insecure Work in Australia Fact #4: Incidence of Casual Work

Lack of entitlement to paid leave (such as sick leave and annual leave) is commonly interpreted as a proxy for casual or temporary employment; employees who don’t receive paid leave are supposed to receive casual-loaded wage rates as compensation.[1] By this measure, over one in four paid employees (excluding self-employed workers) now works in a casual job, and this share increased 1.6 percentage points since 2012.

Share of Employees Without Paid Leave Entitlements

Source: Centre for Future Work calculations from ABS Catalogue 6333.0, Table 2.3.

The growth of casual work is driven by two simultaneous trends: the growing incidence of part-time work (most part-time jobs are casual), and the casualization of full-time work (12 per cent of full-time positions are now casual). As with part-time employment, the incidence of casual work is higher among women (27 per cent in 2017), but it is growing twice as fast among men. Australia has the highest incidence of temporary work of ay OECD country.[1]

The proportion of paid employees in casual jobs reflects both cyclical fluctuations (depending on labour market tightness) and a long-run upward trend; casualisation is much higher than in the early 1990s, and close to the all-time record set in the early 2000s. Moreover, this proxy measure of “casual” work understates the extent of casual-like work arrangements. For example, the now-common use of irregular working hours for permanent part-time workers allows employers to avoid committing to regular shits, but without paying casual loading benefits.

Read Full Report on Dimensions of Insecure Work

[1] From In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All (Paris: OECD, 2015), Figure 4.1.

[1] As with many other legal minimum entitlements, the enforcement of casual loading requirements is weak, and non-compliance is common.

CFW, housed within the Australia Institute, conducts and publishes progressive economic research on work, employment, and labour markets. https://www.futurework

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