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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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CASUAL EMPLOYEES

The arrangements under which people work impact on the wellbeing of individuals and society. Aspects of employment such as pay, conditions and tenure of employment, and the degree of opportunity or risk associated with work, can affect a worker's sense of economic security and overall wellbeing.

The nature of employment in Australia has become more diverse, with growth in forms of employment other than the 'traditional' arrangement of a full-time, ongoing wage or salary job, with regular hours and paid leave.(End note 1) These changes may provide new opportunities for people seeking flexible working arrangements in order to balance work with family, study or other non-work activities. However, other people may find themselves in less than favourable employment arrangements. Casual employment is one form of employment where there can be a range of differing circumstances and individual impacts, both positive and negative.

This article examines the trends in casual employment over the past ten years using data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Survey of Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership.(End note 2) It also looks at the age distribution of casuals, and the occupations and industries in which casuals work. For the purposes of this article a casual employee is defined as an employee who is not entitled to either paid holiday leave or paid sick leave in their main job, while an ongoing employee is an employee who is entitled to either paid holiday leave or paid sick leave (or both) in their main job.(End note 3)

TRENDS IN CASUAL EMPLOYMENT

While the nature and level of casual employment in Australia continues to be debated, it is widely agreed that casual employment has increased over the last decade and will continue to do so.(End note 1) (End note 4) In 2004, 26% of employees were casual, compared with 23% in 1994 (graph 6.29). Most of this increase occurred prior to 1998, with the proportion remaining relatively stable since then. There has also been an increase in the number of people employed in casual jobs from 1.4 million in 1994 to 2.0 million in 2004.

Graph 6.29: PROPORTION OF EMPLOYEES WHO ARE CASUAL - August


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.

Age

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.

Graph 6.30: MALE EMPLOYEES AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION(a) - August 2004



Graph 6.31: FEMALE EMPLOYEES AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION(a) - August 2004



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%).

6.32 INDUSTRY OF EMPLOYEES - August 2004
Employees
Proportion who are

Casuals
Females
Under 25 years
ANZSIC Division
'000
%
%
%

Agriculture, forestry and fishing
133.0
48.9
30.7
22.2
Mining
85.8
14.2
12.6
9.4
Manufacturing
956.2
15.9
26.9
16.2
Electricity, gas and water supply
71.5
8.1
16.7
9.1
Construction
403.5
24.1
9.9
25.9
Wholesale trade
344.4
17.0
31.7
17.6
Retail trade
1,165.1
45.0
54.1
47.1
Accommodation, cafes and restaurants
428.6
59.1
57.1
40.6
Transport and storage
346.1
21.7
27.6
11.2
Communication services
139.2
19.4
36.1
13.2
Finance and insurance
295.2
6.4
58.7
14.2
Property and business services
779.5
24.7
48.5
19.1
Government administration and defence
427.7
7.3
50.3
7.1
Education
669.9
17.1
68.2
7.2
Health and community services
898.7
20.1
81.5
11.6
Cultural and recreational services
187.6
44.9
51.6
27.2
Personal and other services
289.3
23.3
48.6
17.2
Total
7,621.3
25.7
48.3
21.2

Source: Dataset constructed from the ABS 1992-2004 August Labour Force Surveys and the ABS 1992-2004 Surveys of Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership.


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%).

6.33 OCCUPATION OF EMPLOYEES - August 2004
Employees
Proportion who are

Casuals
Females
Under 25 years
ASCO Major group
'000
%
%
%

Managers and administrators
442.6
5.7
29.1
4.6
Professionals
1,520.8
12.4
57.2
8.3
Associate professionals
826.7
12.7
45.4
13.0
Tradespersons and related workers
819.5
17.0
9.1
26.6
Advanced clerical and service workers
239.5
16.5
85.6
13.1
Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers
1,490.0
28.7
72.9
24.3
Intermediate production and transport workers
682.4
29.6
13.8
17.7
Elementary clerical, sales and service workers
876.7
56.2
66.2
49.3
Labourers and related workers
723.1
47.1
37.3
27.3
Total
7,621.3
25.7
48.3
21.2

Source: Dataset constructed from the ABS 1992-2004 August Labour Force Surveys and the ABS 1992-2004 Surveys of Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership.


End notes

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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