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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 2002  
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Contents >> Work >> Paid Work: Employment arrangements

Paid Work: Employment arrangements

Between 1986 and 2000, the proportion of employees who worked some of their hours at night or on the weekend in the previous four weeks increased from 56% to 64%.

Paid employment is the main source of income for most households, providing some degree of economic security and independence. Aspects of employment, such as the amount of remuneration, the conditions and tenure of employment, the personal development opportunities available, and the physical, financial and psychological effects, can all impact upon a worker's sense of wellbeing.

Over the past decade, growth in service industries, increasing numbers of women in the workforce, sustained periods of relatively high unemployment, labour market deregulation, and technological change have coincided with the emergence of different working arrangements. Such arrangements may accord with the individual preferences of many employees. They may also produce economic and social benefits such as more employment, greater productivity and higher living standards. However, if actual employment arrangements differ from preferred arrangements, the mismatch may give rise to perceptions of underemployment, job insecurity, unsociable working hours, and/or overwork.

The vast majority of employed people have just the one job, with only 7% holding more than one job simultaneously in 2000. When considering multiple jobholders, this article examines only those who are employees in their main job, and only looks at employment arrangements prevailing in that main job.

The 1990s witnessed trends away from full-time and permanent employment towards part-time and casual employment. The proportion of employed persons working full-time decreased each year to fall from 79% in 1990 to 74% in 2000. Over the same period, the proportion of employees with an entitlement to either paid sick leave or paid holiday leave declined fairly steadily from 81% to 73% (see Australian Social Trends 2001, Work: national summary table). These changes have helped to alter the traditional notion of a job, which was commonly viewed as being permanent and full-time, with paid leave entitlements and daytime weekday working hours.


Working arrangements
Data presented in this article are mainly from the ABS Working Arrangements Survey which was last conducted in November 2000, and from the ABS Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation (SEAS), conducted between April and June 2000.

Employed people are those aged 15 years and over who, during the reference week, worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission, payment in kind in a job or business or on a farm, or worked without pay in a family business, or who had a job but were not at work. Also included are employers, own account workers or contributing family workers who had a job, business or farm, but were not at work.

An employee is a person who works for a public or private employer and receives remuneration in wages or salary, or is paid a retainer fee by his or her employer and works on a commission basis, or works for an employer for tips, piece-rates or payment in kind; or, is a person who operates his or her own incorporated enterprise with or without hiring employees.

Some employed people (including some employees) were excluded from the scope of the Working Arrangements Survey and the SEAS. In particular, persons aged 15-19 years who were attending school were excluded from the 2000 Working Arrangements Survey. For a comprehensive list of scope exclusions, see the explanatory notes of the ABS publications Working Arrangements, Australia (cat. no. 6342.0) and Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia, 2000 (cat. no. 6361.0).


Pattern of work hours
One trend evident between 1993 and 2000 has been the growing proportion of employees able to work extra hours to take time off; 34% worked under this arrangement in 1993, rising to 38% in 2000. This increase was accompanied by a decrease in employees entitled to rostered days off work. In 2000, 20% of employees were entitled to rostered days off work, down from 28% in 1993. The proportion of employees whose working days varied from week to week rose slightly from 12% in 1993 to 14% in 2000.

For many employees, paid employment is an activity not confined to daytime weekday hours. Between 1986 and 2000, the proportion of employees who worked some of their hours at night (between 7pm and 7am) or on the weekend in the previous four weeks increased from 56% to 64%.

Set against the backdrop of continuing labour market deregulation, the prevalence of some employment arrangements was the same in 2000 as it had been in 1993, notwithstanding some minor fluctuations in the intervening years. Around one-third of employees worked overtime on a regular basis in both years, and a similar proportion had variable start and finish times. Furthermore, there was only a small increase between 1986 and 2000 in the proportion of employees who performed shift work during the previous four weeks (from 12% to 14%).

PROPORTION OF EMPLOYEES WORKING UNDER SELECTED EMPLOYMENT ARRANGEMENTS

1993
1995
1997
2000
Selected employment arrangements(a)
%
%
%
%

Able to work extra hours to take time off work
33.9
37.3
38.1
38.4
Working days vary from week to week
11.9
12.0
13.4
13.7
Regularly works overtime
32.8
35.7
33.6
33.0
Worked shift work in the previous four weeks
13.8
14.6
14.5
13.9
Variable start and finish times
34.4
36.5
37.0
33.7
Entitled to rostered days off work
28.2
26.5
23.2
20.4

(a) In the main job of people who are an employee in their main job.

Source: Working Arrangements, Australia, August 1997 and November 2000 (ABS cat. no. 6342.0).


Male and female employees
There were differences in certain employment arrangements between male and female employees in 2000. Male employees were more likely than female employees to work overtime on a regular basis (39% compared with 25%), to work at night or on the weekend (69% compared with 57%), to have variable start and finish times (38% compared with 29%), and to be entitled to rostered days off work (24% compared with 16%). Female employees were more likely to have a pattern of working days that varied from week to week (16% compared with 12% of male employees).

Some of these differences between male and female employees may reflect differences in the number of hours worked each week. In 2000, male employees were more likely to be employed full-time (working 35 hours or more per week), and female employees were more likely to be employed part-time (working less than 35 hours per week). Full-time employees were considerably more likely than part-time employees to be entitled to rostered days off work (26% compared with 5%), and to regularly work overtime (41% compared with 12%). Conversely, part-time employees were more likely to have a pattern of working days that varied from week to week (26% compared with 9% of full-time employees).

PROPORTION OF MALE AND FEMALE EMPLOYEES WORKING UNDER SELECTED ARRANGEMENTS(a) - 2000

(a) In the main job of people who are an employee in their main job.

Source: Working Arrangements, Australia, November 2000 (ABS cat. no. 6342.0) except ‘Worked at night or on the weekend in the previous four weeks’ which has been sourced from the ABS 2000 Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation.


Overtime
In 2000, around 2.5 million employees (33%) regularly worked overtime in their main job. At least two-thirds of these employees had been, or expected to be, reimbursed in some way for the most recent period of overtime that they worked; 38% by extra pay, 21% by inclusion of overtime in their salary package, 5% by receiving time off work in lieu of payment, and 2% by other means. One-third of all employees who usually worked overtime were not, or did not expect to be, reimbursed by any of these methods for the most recent period of overtime that they worked.

In 1993, 40% of employees who regularly worked overtime in their main job were reimbursed by extra pay for their most recent period of overtime worked. As in 2000, 5% received time off in lieu of payment.

METHOD OF REIMBURSEMENT FOR EMPLOYEE(a) OVERTIME(b) - 2000

(a) Employees who worked overtime on a regular basis in their main job.
(b) For the most recent period of overtime worked in their main job.

Source: Working Arrangements, Australia, November 2000 (ABS cat. no. 6342.0).


Preferred work hours and patterns
One indicator of job satisfaction is the extent to which actual working arrangements mirror preferred working arrangements. In the ABS 2000 Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, survey respondents were asked whether they would prefer to 'Work less hours and earn less', 'Work more hours and earn more', 'Work the same amount as now' or whether they had 'No preference'. While 'Work less and maintain current earnings' was not a preference option, interviewers recorded this response when it was given. In total, 6% of employees responded to the question in this way.

In 2000, nearly two-thirds of people who were employees in their main job preferred to work the same amount of hours as they actually worked in that main job. However, those who usually worked full-time in their main job were more likely to be working according to their preference than those who usually worked part-time. While the majority (61%) of part-time employees were working their preferred amount of hours, 34% preferred to work more hours and earn more. This preference to work more hours and earn more was strongest among those working less than 16 hours (40%) and generally weakened with increased usual weekly working hours. While 61% of those who usually worked more than 60 hours per week in their main job worked according to their preference, 6% preferred to work more hours and earn more, and 12% preferred to work less hours and earn less.

EMPLOYEES' USUAL AND PREFERRED WORKING HOURS(a) - 2000

Preferred to work(b)

Less hours and earn less
More hours and earn more
Same hours and earn the same(c)
Less hours and earn the same
Total(b)

Usual weekly hours
%
%
%
%
%
‘000

Working part-time
3.5
34.1
60.8
1.6
100.0
2,124.9
    1-15
1.7
39.5
57.7
*1.1
100.0
894.8
    16-24
3.6
32.1
62.9
*1.4
100.0
620.0
    25-34
6.0
28.3
63.2
2.5
100.0
610.1
Working full-time
8.7
15.6
67.5
8.3
100.0
5,379.0
    35-39
6.8
20.5
69.1
3.7
100.0
1,515.8
    40
7.1
16.9
70.7
5.3
100.0
1,196.5
    41-48
9.3
17.7
65.4
7.6
100.0
1,181.8
    49-59
11.0
9.5
67.1
12.4
100.0
915.9
    60 or more
11.9
5.6
60.9
21.5
100.0
568.9
Total(a)
7.2
20.9
65.6
6.4
100.0
7,503.8

(a) In the main job of people who are an employee in their main job.
(b) Those whose preference was not known have been included in the population estimate total column but have been excluded from the calculation of percentage distributions.
(c) Includes those who indicated no preference.

Source: ABS 2000 Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation.


In 2000, the single most common main reason for employees wanting to work fewer hours in their main job was to have more free time to engage in social or recreational activities. Of employees who preferred to work more hours, desire for more income was the main reason for 93%. Very small proportions preferred to work more hours mainly to gain more experience or meet career goals (3%), to get work done or to meet a workload (2%), or for some other reason (3%).

In 2000, employees working a set number of days over a given period of time were more likely than employees working shiftwork, casual or relief work to be working their preferred pattern of hours. This difference prevailed among both male and female employees. For example, 76% of male employees and 79% of female employees working a set number of days each week were working their preferred pattern of hours. In comparison, only 47% and 52% respectively of male and female employees doing casual or relief work were working their preferred pattern.

PROPORTION OF EMPLOYEES WHO PREFERRED THEIR CURRENT PATTERN OF WORK HOURS(a) - 2000

(a) ln the main job of people who are an employee in their main job.

Source: ABS 2000 Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation.


Entitlements
Over recent decades, some employers and employees have expressed a desire for change that embraces more diverse, more flexible, and more 'family-friendly' working arrangements. Wider access to maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, and carer’s leave are examples of such desired change, which is likely to have been influenced in part by increasing workforce participation of women during this period of time.

In 2000, nearly half of all female employees (45%) were entitled to some paid maternity leave. A similar proportion of male employees (44%) had an entitlement to some paid paternity leave. Higher proportions of both male and female employees were entitled to paid sick leave, and to paid holiday leave, and almost all employees were covered by either workers' compensation or income protection insurance.

PROPORTION OF EMPLOYEES WITH SELECTED ENTITLEMENTS(a)(b) - 2000

(a) ln the main job of people who are an employee in their main job.
(b) Those who did not know if they had a particular entitlement were excluded prior to the calculation of that proportion.

Source: ABS 2000 Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation.


Continuity of employment
Confidence about having ongoing paid employment may influence people's decisions about, and ability to undertake, long-term commitments such as raising children, entering into mortgages, and borrowing to invest or to purchase assets such as cars, furniture and appliances. A move away from permanent employment towards contract employment, which promises a job for only a specified period of time, and casual employment, in which there is not necessarily an expectation of continuing employment, could generate concern among some people about diminishing job security.

In 2000, 3% of employees with leave entitlements expected to leave their job within a year because of economic or work-related reasons (including the ending of a fixed-term contract). The proportion was higher among employees who considered themselves to be employed on a casual basis, with 7% expecting to leave their job within a year for these reasons.

Also in 2000, 5% of people who worked as an employee in their main job were employed on a fixed-term contract basis. The majority of these people did not expect to have to leave their job when their contract ended, with 72% expecting their contract to be renewed.

SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MAIN JOB OF EMPLOYEES(a) - 2000

Employees with leave entitlements
Self-identified casual employees
All employees
Selected characteristics
%
%
%

Guaranteed a minimum number of hours as a condition of employment
n.a.
18.8
n.a.
Job has a set finishing date
7.0
7.1
6.8
Expects to leave job within 12 months because of economic or work-related reasons
2.5
7.0
3.6
Employed on a fixed-term contract basis
5.6
4.4
5.2
    Proportion of those employed on a fixed-term contract basis who expected that contract to be renewed when it finished
75.3
60.3
71.9

(a) Limited to those who were an employee in their main job.

Source: ABS 2000 Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation.


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