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3416.0 - Perspectives on Migrants, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/03/2010   
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FORMS OF EMPLOYMENT - A COMPARISON OF AUSTRALIAN AND OVERSEAS BORN PERSONS

On this page:
INTRODUCTION
OVERVIEW
EMPLOYEES
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
OTHER BUSINESS OPERATORS
FURTHER INFORMATION
LIST OF REFERENCES
DATA TABLES



INTRODUCTION

In order to develop better policies and improve the assistance provided to migrants, it is important to understand their settlement experiences and outcomes. Recent insight has been gained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) Monthly Population Survey with the release of data from the November 2008 Forms of Employment Survey (FOES). The data reflects the changing nature of the Australian labour market. The survey allows for the investigation of differences in employment characteristics between overseas and Australian born persons, and between the different types of migrants.

This article examines the working arrangements of both Australian born and overseas born people in the labour market. Of particular interest is the type of employment that migrants obtain within the first few years of their arrival in Australia and the employment that migrants settle into over the long term. The analysis examines how this compares with Australian born people in the workforce. The overseas born population is classified by a person's country of birth (COB) and year of arrival (YOA). Country of birth groups have been categorised as MESC and non-MESC. MESC is used to describe people migrating from main English-speaking countries. Significant numbers of migrants that come from a MESC country (comprising of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United States of America) are likely to speak English. Non-MESC describes people originating from countries where languages other than English are likely to be spoken by migrants. It is important to note that being from a non-main English-speaking country does not imply a lack of proficiency in English. Year of arrival categorises migrants as either recent migrants (those who arrived in Australia between 2001 and 2008) or long term migrants (those who arrived in Australia prior to 2001).

The survey population considers only employed persons in the workforce and has jobholders classified to a form of employment based on their main job (the job in which they work the most hours). On this basis they are classified as either employees; independent contractors; or other business operators. Employees are people who work for a public or private employer and receive a wage or salary. They are engaged under an employment contract (contract of service) and take direction from their employer as to how their work should be performed. Independent contractors, on the other hand, operate their own business and contract to perform services for others without being an 'employee' (a contract for services). Finally, other business operators operate their own businesses with or without staff but are not operating as independent contractors. They generate income from managing their staff and selling goods or services to the public rather than providing labour services to a client (ABS, 2009).

The scope of the survey includes all usual residents of Australia (excluding persons in very remote areas). Overseas born persons are defined as usual residents if they are staying in Australia for a period of 12 months or more, regardless of whether they go overseas on holidays during that period.

For further information regarding the survey, readers are encouraged to refer to the Explanatory Notes.


OVERVIEW

As at November 2008, the Australian labour force comprised 11.1 million persons, of which 26% (2.9 million) were persons born overseas. The participation rate for overseas born persons was 61%, compared with 68% for those born in Australia (ABS, 2008).

Just over one quarter of employed people in the labour force at the time of the survey were migrants. Of the 10.7 million employed people in Australia, 2.8 million were born overseas and of these 1.7 million (59% of employed migrants) were born in non-MESC. In terms of recency of arrival 28% of employed migrants from non-MESC are more recent arrivals (i.e. have arrived since 2001). This compares with 25% for employed migrants from MESC.

'Employee' is the most typical form of employment in the Australian labour market accounting for 81% of all employed persons. Of the 7.8 million employed people that were born in Australia, 81% were employees. This was similar to the proportion of the overseas born population (80% of the 2.8 million employed migrants). For both populations, females were more likely than males to be working as employees.

Recent migrants, however, are more likely to be employed as employees than other business operators or independent contractors. The proportion of recent migrant employees (87% from MESC and 89% from non-MESC) is higher than that for both long term migrants (77% for MESC and 76% for non-MESC) and the Australian born population (81%). (Table 1)

Other business operators (10%) and independent contractors (9%) account for the remainder of the labour market. There is little difference in the proportion of Australian and overseas born persons in each group. Within the Australian born population there are more males than females operating as other business operators and independent contractors, and similar patterns are observed in the overseas born population.

Of greater interest, however, is the impact that length of residence (measured in terms of year of arrival in Australia) has on the employment of migrants in these forms of employment.

Employment as an other business operator is lower for recent migrants (6% for MESC and 6% for non-MESC) than for long term migrants (11% for MESC and 13% for non-MESC) or Australian born persons (10%).

There is a lower proportion of recent migrants (7% for MESC and 6% for non-MESC) and a higher proportion of long term migrants (12% for MESC and 11% for non-MESC) than Australian born workers (9%) employed as independent contractors.

The small differences in forms of employment observed across the different groups at the broad level can be seen more strongly when one considers gender. Recent male migrants are less likely to be employed as independent contractors and other business operators compared with both long term male migrants or Australian born males.

Over the longer term, around 16% of long term male MESC migrants are employed as independent contractors compared with 12% of Australian born males. Almost 15% of long term male migrants from non-MESC were employed as other business operators.
EMPLOYEES

The section focuses specifically on the 8.6 million people who were employed as employees. How do the characteristics of employees in the Australian born and migrant populations differ?

Industry

Manufacturing has a high proportion of both recent (12%) and long term (17%) non-MESC migrants. The Retail trade and the Accommodation and food services industries both had high proportions of recent non-MESC migrants (11% and 18% respectively), but in the longer term, the proportions were much lower (7% and 6% respectively).

EMPLOYEES, Selected industries - Australian born and non-MESC persons - Nov 2008
Graph: Graph 1 Employees, Selected industries, Australian born and non-MESC persons, Nov 2008


In the Professional, scientific and technical services industry, where more highly skilled labour is employed, there were high proportions of both recent MESC (12%) and non-MESC (10%) migrants compared with the Australian born population (6%). In addition, a greater proportion of long term migrants were employed in the Health care and social assistance industry (15% for MESC and 14% for non-MESC) than for recent arrivals (10% for MESC and 11% for non-MESC) or Australian born persons (11%).

EMPLOYEES, Selected industries - Australian born and MESC persons - Nov 2008
Graph: Graph 2 Employees, Selected industries, Australian born and MESC persons, Nov 2008

Occupation group

A higher proportion of migrants (26%) were employed as Professionals than Australian born persons (20%), reflecting the focus of the migration program over recent years on the recruitment of skilled migrants. Looking more closely it appears that this was largely due to a higher proportion of recent migrants from MESC (30%) being employed as professionals.

EMPLOYEES, Occupation - Australian born and MESC persons - Nov 2008
Graph: Graph 3 Employees, Occupation, Australian born and MESC persons, Nov 2008


On the other hand, more migrants (13%) were employed as Labourers than Australian born workers (11%). In addition, a higher proportion of recent non-MESC migrants (17%) were employed as labourers than recent MESC migrants (9%). Employment of both recent (17%) and long term (14%) non-MESC migrants as labourers exceeded that of the Australian born population (11%).

EMPLOYEES, Occupation - Australian born and non-MESC persons - Nov 2008
Graph: Graph 4 Employees, Occupation, Australian born and non-MESC persons, Nov 2008


In contrast, a higher proportion of Australian born persons (12%) were employed as sales workers than overseas born persons (8%). This difference is largely due to smaller numbers of MESC migrants in these occupations. Around 7% of those born in MESC were employed as sales workers, with length of time in Australia making no difference to observed employment rates. In comparison, 6% of long term non-MESC and 11% of recent non-MESC migrants were employed as sales workers. Full-time or part-time status in main job

When considering the full-time and part-time status of employment for employees, it is worth noting that hours worked for some migrants may be governed by their specific visa conditions. For example, overseas students are able to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while their course is in session (DIAC, October 2009).

The data shows that 71% of employees in the Australian labour market work full-time and 29% are part-time. More specifically, 73% of overseas born workers are full-time compared with 70% of Australian born employees.

There was a higher proportion of recent MESC migrants (83%) working full-time than recent non-MESC migrants (64%). The proportion of full-time employment for long term migrants was similar for both country of birth groups (73% for MESC and 74% for non-MESC) but higher than the equivalent rate for Australian born persons (70%).

There were more females than males working part-time for all country of birth groups. In particular, more recent and long term MESC females (28% and 46% respectively) were working part-time than recent and long term MESC males (8% and 10% respectively). A similar pattern was also observed for non-MESC migrants. (Table 2)

Interestingly the proportion of part-time males and females from MESC increased with the length of time in Australia whereas for part-time males and females from non-MESC the proportions decreased with length of time in Australia.Whether fixed-term contract

The data shows that the majority of employees (96%) in the Australian labour market do not work on the basis of a fixed-term contract. Refer to the Glossary for further information.

In this regard there were only small differences between Australian and overseas born persons, however, there was a higher proportion of recent non-MESC migrants (6%) working under fixed-term contracts than long term non-MESC (3%) or Australian born persons (3%). (Table 3) Length of time with employer

The data shows the duration of employment with an employer for the various population groups. Almost one quarter of employees in Australia have been with their employer for less than one year.

There was a higher proportion of recent migrants (39% for MESC and 45% for non-MESC) than Australian born persons (24%) employed for less than one year with the same employer, presumably reflecting their relatively short time in Australia and possibly the short term nature of their employment while settling into their new lives. The proportion of long term migrants that were employed with an employer for less than one year was much less (20% for MESC and 18% for non-MESC).

A higher proportion of long term migrants (21% for both MESC and non-MESC) compared with Australian born persons (16%), had been employed with the same employer for between 5 and 10 years. (Table 4)
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS

The number of independent contractors identified in the survey restricts detailed analysis in terms of comparing the Australian born population with the various migrant populations. However, some analysis on selected industries is presented below.

Industry

Of the 967,100 Independent contractors identified on the survey, 75% were males and 29% were born overseas. Almost half of the 277,400 overseas born persons operating as independent contractors are long term non-MESC migrants (132,700).

Approximately one third of all independent contractors are working in the construction industry (312,000 or 32%). By contrast, recent and long term non-MESC migrants were less likely to be employed in this industry (18% and 28% respectively). (Table 5)
OTHER BUSINESS OPERATORS

The number of Other business operators included in the survey limits detailed analysis of country of birth and year of arrival characteristics, however, some additional industry focussed analysis is presented below.

Industry

There were approximately 1.1 million other business operators in Australia at the time of the survey of which 62% were males and 28% were born overseas. More than 50% of the 296,400 overseas born persons operating as other business operators are long term non-MESC migrants (155,400).

Other business operators are most likely to work in the Agricultural, forestry and fishing industry. This industry employs a large proportion of Australian born business operators (21%) compared with a small proportion of overseas born business operators (6%). Within the construction industry, the second largest industry for other business operators, there were similar proportions of Australian born and overseas born persons employed (12% and 13% respectively).

The Retail trade industry is the third largest for other business operators. A higher proportion of migrants (14%) than Australian born persons (11%) operate within this industry. (Table 6)
FURTHER INFORMATION

The data cubes relating to this article are available to download free of charge from the Downloads tab of this product on the ABS website.

If you have any queries or comments about this article, or you would like to obtain further information about migrant and ethnicity related statistics, please visit the Migrant and Ethnicity Theme Page on the ABS website or contact the National Migrants Statistics Unit directly by email on migrant.statistics.unit@abs.gov.au.

For further information about the Forms of Employment survey see Forms of Employment, Australia, Nov 2008 (cat. no. 6359.0).


LIST OF REFERENCES

ABS 2009, Forms of Employment, Australia, Nov 2008, cat. no. 6359.0, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2008, 6291.0.55.001 - Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery, Nov 2008.

DIAC October 2009, http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/50students.htm.

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