Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
6203.0 - Labour Force, Australia, Jul 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2001   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

Special Article - Casual employment (Jul, 1999)


(This article was published in the July 1999 issue of Labour Force, Australia (ABS Catalogue Number 6203.0))


INTRODUCTION

This article examines the recent growth of casual employment in Australia. In recent years, there has been considerable discussion on the changes occurring in the structure of the Australian workplace 1 . In particular, there has been strong growth in the number of casual employees compared to other employees. Between August 1988 and August 1998, 69% of net growth in the number of employees was in casual employment.

Casual workers are often thought of as those employees who are not entitled to paid holiday or sick leave, who have no expectation of ongoing employment and for whom each engagement with their employer constitutes a separate contract of employment. They usually receive a higher rate of pay to compensate for a lack of job security and paid leave 2 .

Casual employees do not necessarily have only short-term employment relationships with their employer. Indeed, they may remain with the same employer for a considerable length of time. It should be noted that both casual and other employees can work part-time since the distinction between full-time and part-time work is made on the number of hours worked per week and not on the basis of employment arrangements.

Due to the difficulty of measuring elements of casual employment, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines casual employees as those employees who do not receive paid sick or holiday leave. This definition has a number of limitations. In some awards, employees with many of the characteristics of casuals are now entitled to paid holiday and/or sick leave 3 . The ABS definition may also pick up workers who do not fit the traditional concept of a casual employee, by virtue of their employment arrangements excluding paid holiday and sick leave entitlements. Some of these limitations have been examined in the ABS survey Forms of Employment, which was conducted in August 1998. Results of this survey are due to be released shortly.

The analysis in this article is based on data collected in Labour Force supplementary surveys in August each year over the period from 1988 to 1998, some of which has not been published previously by the ABS. Much of the analysis focuses on the number of casual employees as a proportion of all employees. It should be noted that this article focuses solely on employees. The total number of persons employed includes both employees and self-employed persons.


TRENDS

Between August 1988 and August 1998, there was a substantial increase in the proportion of casual employees, from 19% to 27%. Over the decade, the number of casual employees increased by 69% from 1,152,900 to 1,946,100, while the number of other employees increased by 7% from 4,949,000 to 5,298,700. Graph 1 illustrates the divergent growth rates of the number of casual and other employees since August 1988.



The sizeable increase in the number of casual employees has been due predominantly to a large increase in the number of casually employed males. Between 1988 and 1998, the number of male casual employees increased by 115% from 415,700 to 894,100. Over the same period the number of non-casual male employees decreased by 2% from 3,127,800 to 3,064,100, indicating a major shift in the structure of the male workforce.

The number of female casual employees increased by 43% between 1988 and 1998. Despite the difference in the rates of increase of casually employed males and females, females continued to represent a greater proportion of casual employees. In August 1998, 54% of casual employees were female.

2 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY SEX

Casual
Other
Proportion of casuals
August 1988
August 1998
August 1988
August 1998
August 1988
August 1998
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%

    Males
415.7
894.1
3 127.8
3 064.1
11.7
22.6
    Females
737.3
1 052.0
1 821.2
2 234.6
28.8
32.0
    Persons
1 152.9
1 946.1
4 949.0
5 298.7
18.9
26.9




AGE

In August 1998, the highest proportions of casuals were in the 15-24 age group (44.5%) and 55 and over age group (27.8%). The proportion of casuals for employees within the 25-54 age span was 21.8%. Approximately one third of all casuals were aged between 15 and 24.

The 15-19 and 20-24 age groups recorded the largest increases in the proportion of casuals between August 1988 and August 1998. Within these age groups, the increases in the number of casual employees coincided with decreases in the number of other employees. For casual employees aged 25 and older, males and females displayed quite different rates of increase. The proportion of casual males aged 25 and older more than doubled between 1988 and 1998, while for females aged 25 and older, the proportion of casuals decreased slightly.

3 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY AGE AND SEX

Casual
Other
Proportion of casuals
August 1988
August 1998
August 1988
August 1998
August 1988
August 1998
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%
    MALES

    15-19
106.7
152.2
211.4
123.4
33.5
55.2
    20-24
71.2
143.9
410.6
332.1
14.8
30.2
    25-34
89.7
205.4
918.9
856.4
8.9
19.3
    35-44
66.6
159.6
822.0
823.2
7.5
16.2
    45-54
42.1
138.3
496.9
657.1
7.8
17.4
    55+
39.4
94.6
268.0
271.9
12.8
25.8
    Total
415.7
894.1
3 127.8
3 064.1
11.7
22.6

    FEMALES
    15-19
138.8
207.2
171.2
72.0
44.8
74.2
    20-24
81.4
147.7
339.7
284.5
19.3
34.2
    25-34
184.2
205.1
501.9
636.3
26.8
24.4
    35-44
195.0
247.2
457.9
582.5
29.9
29.8
    45-54
97.3
178.5
261.7
514.2
27.1
25.8
    55+
40.5
66.3
88.8
145.3
31.3
31.3
    Total
737.3
1 052.0
1 821.2
2 234.6
28.8
32.0

    PERSONS
    15-19
245.5
359.3
382.6
195.3
39.1
64.8
    20-24
152.6
291.6
750.3
616.5
16.9
32.1
    25-34
273.8
410.5
1 420.8
1 492.7
16.2
21.6
    35-44
261.7
406.9
1 279.9
1 405.7
17.0
22.4
    45-54
139.5
316.8
758.6
1 171.3
15.5
21.3
    55+
79.9
160.9
356.8
417.2
18.3
27.8
    Total
1 152.9
1 946.1
4 949.0
5 298.7
18.9
26.9



The highest proportion of casuals was in the 15-19 age group in both 1988 and 1998. This age group contains many full-time students and persons entering full-time employment for the first time. In 1998, 93% of teenage employees who were full-time students, were casual employees. Of teenage employees who were not full-time students, 48% were casual employees.

The proportion of casuals was also high in the 55 and older age group in both 1988 and 1998. This age group contains workers approaching retirement. Thus, the proportion of casuals was highest in the 15-19 and 55 and older age groups. These were also the age groups with the lowest rates of labour force participation, as people moved into or out of the labour force.


OCCUPATION

Casual workers tend to work in lower skilled occupations. In August 1998, the only occupation group containing more casual employees than other employees was Elementary clerical, sales and service workers. Casual employees also made up a large component of Labourers and related workers.

4 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY OCCUPATION OF MAIN JOB - AUGUST 1998

Casual
Other
Proportion of casuals
      Occupation of main job
’000
’000
%

      Managers and administrators
58.2
323.2
15.3
      Professionals
225.8
1 150.0
16.4
      Associate professionals
106.3
589.5
15.3
      Tradespersons and related workers
170.5
709.7
19.4
      Advanced clerical and service workers
79.8
251.4
24.1
      Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers
371.4
982.3
27.4
      Intermediate production and transport workers
173.6
506.4
25.5
      Elementary clerical, sales and service workers
418.2
385.8
52.0
      Labourers and related workers
342.2
400.5
46.1
      Total
1 946.1
5 298.7
26.9



Generally, the proportion of casuals decreased as the skill level of the occupation group increased. The proportion of casuals was lowest for the occupation groups Managers and administrators; Professionals; Associate professionals; and Tradespersons and related workers.


INDUSTRY

In August 1998, the industries with the highest proportions of casuals were Agriculture, forestry and fishing; Accommodation, cafes and restaurants; Cultural and recreational services; and Retail trade. Retail trade was the industry with the highest number of casual employees. These industries tend to have substantial fluctuations in employment requirements over the year, and employ relatively large numbers of females and/or lower skilled workers.

5 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY INDUSTRY OF MAIN JOB-AUGUST 1998

Casual
Other
Proportion of casuals
      Industry
’000
’000
%

      Agriculture, forestry and fishing
91.8
72.4
55.9
      Mining
8.5
67.1
11.3
      Manufacturing
166.2
861.2
16.2
      Electricity, gas and water supply
*3.3
65.2
4.8
      Construction
135.1
263.9
33.9
      Wholesale trade
78.8
383.4
17.1
      Retail trade
481.1
561.6
46.1
      Accommodation, cafes and restaurants
209.0
150.7
58.1
      Transport and storage
61.7
253.8
19.5
      Communication services
16.4
122.3
11.8
      Finance and insurance
26.9
286.4
8.6
      Property and business services
238.2
536.1
30.8
      Government administration and defence
29.7
300.5
9.0
      Education
99.4
483.7
17.1
      Health and community services
170.9
601.6
22.1
      Cultural and recreational services
68.5
93.7
42.2
      Personal and other services
60.6
195.2
23.7
      Total
1 946.1
5 298.7
26.9





The industries with the lowest proportions of casuals were Electricity, gas and water supply; Finance and insurance; and Government administration and defence.


HOURS WORKED

Casual employees were more likely than other employees to work part-time in both August 1988 and August 1998. A part-time employee is defined as any employee who usually works less than 35 hours per week in all jobs. In August 1998, 64% of employees working part- time were casual. In contrast, 14% of full-time employees were casual. The greater the number of hours worked per week, the smaller the proportion of casuals in the category.

6 CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY HOURS WORKED IN ALL JOBS

Casual
Other
Proportion of casuals
August 1988
August 1998
August 1988
August 1998
August 1988
August 1998
’000
’000
’000
’000
%
%

    Worked part-time
784.0
1 184.5
397.0
676.8
66.4
63.6
    Less than 14 hours per week
445.5
652.9
82.2
145.5
84.4
81.8
    15-24 hours per week
221.4
338.4
160.8
276.0
57.9
55.1
    25-34 hours per week
117.2
193.2
154.0
255.4
43.2
43.1
    Worked full-time
368.9
761.6
4 552.0
4 621.8
7.5
14.1
    Total
1 152.9
1 946.1
4 949.0
5 298.7
18.9
26.9



Between 1988 and 1998, the average number of hours worked by male casual employees increased by 0.6 hours from 28.5 to 29.1 hours per week; the average number of hours worked by female casual employees increased by 0.7 hours from 17.7 to 18.4 hours per week. Over the same period, the average number of hours worked by all casual employees increased by 1.7 hours, from 21.6 to 23.3 hours per week. This difference indicates that the rise in the average number of hours worked per week for all casuals was due more to the increased proportion of male casual employees than the propensity for casual workers to work longer hours.

7 AVERAGE HOURS WORKED PER WEEK FOR CASUAL AND OTHER EMPLOYEES BY SEX

Casual
Other
August 1988
August 1998
August 1988
August 1998

    Males
28.5
29.1
38.3
39.2
    Females
17.7
18.4
33.2
32.7
    Persons
21.6
23.3
36.5
36.4

 


When surveyed, all part-time employees were asked whether they would have preferred to work more hours. The results indicate that not only did casual workers tend to work fewer hours than other employees in August 1998, but casual part-time employees (33%) were more likely than other part-time employees (19%) to prefer to work more hours. These proportions represented an increase from August 1988 when 20% of casual employees and 11% of other employees working part-time would have preferred to work more hours.


CONCLUSION

Casual employment is most common for employees under 25 years of age and is more prevalent for females than males. Casual employees tend to work in lower skilled occupations, and in seasonal industries. The increase in the number of casual employees in Australia between 1988 and 1998 was much greater than that of other employees over the same period. This increase has been particularly evident for males and for employees aged between 15 and 19. The proportion of casual part-time employees reporting that they would like to work more hours per week also increased.


ENDNOTES

1 Barnes, P., Johnson, R., Kulys, A. & Hook, S. 1999, Productivity and the Structure of Employment, Productivity Commission Staff Research Paper, AusInfo, Canberra.

Brosnan, P. & Walsh, P. 1996, ‘Non-Standard Employment in Australia and New Zealand: Results From a Workplace Survey’, in Teicher, J. (ed) Non-Standard Employment in Australia and New Zealand, Monograph No. 9 National Key Centre in Industrial Relations, Monash University, Melbourne.

de Ruyter, A. 1998, Casual Employment, Job-seekers and Labour Market Flows, presented to the 5th National Conference on Unemployment, RMIT, Oct 1st and 2nd 1998.

Burgess, J. 1994, ‘Non-standard and Precarious Employment: A Review of Australian Workforce Data’, Labour Economics and Productivity, vol. 6, no. 2, September, pp. 118–129.

Mangan, J. & Williams, C. 1999, ‘Casual Employment in Australia: A Further Analysis’, Australian Economic Papers, vol. 38, no. 2, March, pp. 40–50.

2 Dawkins, P. & Norris, K. 1990, ‘Casual Employment in Australia’, Australian Bulletin of Labour, vol. 16, no. 3, September, pp.156–173.

Simpson, M., Dawkins, P. & Madden, G. 1997, ‘Casual Employment in Australia: Incidence and Determinants’, Australian Economic Papers, vol. 36, no. 2, December, pp. 194–204.

3 Brooks, B. 1992, Contract of Employment: Principles of Australian Employment Law, CCH Australia Limited, Sydney.


Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.