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The increase in the proportion of employees who were casual is due mainly to changes for men rather than women. The proportion of male employees who were casual increased over the period 1994 to 2004, from 16% to 22%, while the proportion for women remained relatively stable (either 30% or 31% over the same period).
The growth in casual employment for male employees can be partly attributed to the growth in the number of casual male employees working in lower skilled occupations. Between 1996 and 2004 almost two-thirds (64%) of the increase in the number of male casual employees occurred in the lower skilled occupations of intermediate production and transport workers, elementary clerical, sales and service workers and labourers and related workers.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CASUAL EMPLOYEES
The common understanding of casual employment is that it is short-term or irregular, but often this is not the case. Many casuals have long-term and regular jobs. In August 2004, 55% of the 2.0 million casual employees in Australia had been with their employer for 12 months or more, compared with 83% of the 5.7 million ongoing employees.
There is a strong link between working part-time hours (less than 35 hours a week in all jobs) and working as a casual employee. In 2004, 69% of casual employees worked part time, compared with 15% of ongoing employees.
Although young people (aged 15-24 years) made up 21% of all employees in 2004, they comprised 40% of casual employees. This is closely related to the relatively high participation of young people in education and their tendency to combine work with study. Between May 1994 and May 2004, the proportion of part-time workers aged 15-24 years who were participating in study increased from 67% to 74%.(End note 5)
Men and women exhibit different employee patterns over their life cycles (graphs 6.30 and 6.31). Men engage predominantly as full-time ongoing employees for all age groups, except 15-19 year olds. While this is also the case for women, the proportion of women who are full-time ongoing employees is lower for all age groups compared with men, and the proportion who are part-time ongoing or casual is higher.
Industry and occupation
The industries and occupations in which casuals are employed tend to offer jobs which are part time and jobs which require lower levels of skill. Employers in these industries may need a workforce which is flexible to cover the seasonal nature of the job, or the daily variations in workload (such as more staff needed at mealtimes in cafes and restaurants).(End note 1) These types of jobs attract younger workers as they offer the opportunity to gain work experience and the flexibility to combine work and study. Women are also attracted to these types of jobs in order to combine work and family responsibilities.(End note 1)
Over half of the employees in the Accommodation, cafes and restaurants industry (59%) were casual employees (table 6.32). The Agriculture, forestry and fishing (49%), Retail trade (45%) and Cultural and recreational services (45%) industries also had high proportions of casual employees. The industry with the lowest proportion of casual employees was Finance and insurance (6%), followed by Government administration and defence (7%) and Electricity, gas and water supply (8%).
The two lowest skilled occupation groups contained the highest proportion of casuals. Over half of elementary clerical, sales and service workers (56%) were casual, as were 47% of labourers and related workers (table 6.33). Conversely, the lowest proportions of casual employees were found in the highest skilled occupation groups: managers and administrators (6%), professionals (12%) and associate professionals (13%).
1. Pocock, B, Buchanan, J & Campbell, I 2004, 'Meeting the Challenge of Casual Work in Australia: Evidence, Past Treatment and Future Policy', Australian Bulletin of Labour, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 16-32.<Back
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004 'Changes in types of employment, 1992-2003', Australian Labour Market Statistics, October 2004, (6105.0), pp. 10-17, ABS, Canberra.<Back
3. Employees are those people aged 15 years and over who, in their main job, work for a public or private employer and receive remuneration in wages, salary, a retainer fee from their employer while working on a commission basis, tips or piece rates. This article excludes employees working for payment in kind only and those who operate their own incorporated business.<Back
4. Watts, R 2001, 'The ACTU's Response to the Growth in Long-term Casual Employment in Australia', Australian Bulletin of Labour, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 137-149.<Back
5. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004, Education and Work, (6227.0), ABS, Canberra.<Back
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