Working arrangements

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Working arrangements and forms of employment, such as casual work, fixed-term, independent contractors, shift work, job flexibility and job security

Reference period
August 2022

Key statistics

  • 2.7 million casual employees (23% of employees, 20% of all employed), up from 2.4 million in August 2021.
  • 21% of employees didn't have minimum guaranteed hours, up from 20% in August 2016.
  • 1.1 million independent contractors (8.3% of employed).
  • 3.4% of employees were employed on a fixed-term contract.

Some of the information on working arrangements is collected in alternating years of the Characteristics of Employment Survey. As a result, this topic page contains data from both August 2021 and August 2022.

Other topics

Statistics from the Characteristics of Employment survey are also published in three other topic-based releases.

Microdata and TableBuilder

Characteristics of Employment microdata for 2014 to 2022 will be available in TableBuilder and DataLab from 16 December 2022. For more information, refer to Microdata and TableBuilder: Characteristics of Employment.

Casual employment

The main indicator ABS uses for casual employment is whether an employee is entitled to paid leave, which includes paid sick leave or paid holiday (annual) leave. These entitlements are usually reserved for non-casual or permanent employment.

In August 2022, there were 2.7 million employees who were not entitled to paid leave. This is equivalent to 23% of all employees, or 20% of all employed people.

For employees who work part-time in their main job, 52% were not entitled to paid leave (1.7 million).

Quarterly measures of paid leave entitlements have been collected in the Labour Force Survey since August 2014, and are available in Table 13 of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed.

In May 2020, the proportion of employees in casual employment fell to 20.6%, which is the lowest rate since August 1991.

What is casual employment?

There is no single definitive measure to determine the number of people in casual employment at any one time; however, the ABS most regularly uses information on paid leave entitlements as a proxy for measuring casual employment in the Australian labour force. The ABS has three data items related to casual employment:

  • employees without paid leave entitlements
  • employees who receive a casual loading (last collected in August 2013)
  • employees who consider their job to be casual (self-perception).

For more information, refer to Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods.

Access to leave entitlements is more common among higher paid workers. In August 2022, 92 per cent of employees who earned the median wage of $1250 per week or more were entitled to paid sick leave or paid holiday leave.

For workers in the lowest 25 per cent of earners (less than $800 per week), 44 per cent had access to paid sick leave or paid holiday leave.

There are several other broader indicators of casual employment that can be used, for example a variable number of hours worked or earnings each week.

For employees in August 2022:

  • 21.6% consider their job to be casual (self-perception) (2.5 million)
  • 24.3% have earnings that vary from one period to the next (excluding overtime payments) (2.8 million)
  • 20.4% do not usually work the same number of hours each week (2.3 million)
  • 20.6% do not have a guaranteed minimum number of hours each week (2.3 million)
  • 10.8% do not expect to be working for current employer in 12 months (1.2 million).

Working time arrangements

Some of the information on working arrangements is collected in alternating years of the Characteristics of Employment Survey. As a result, this section on working time arrangements contains data that was last collected in August 2021.

For employed people in August 2021:

  • 36% had an agreement to work flexible hours, up from 32% in 2015 and 34% in 2019
  • 41% regularly worked from home in August 2021, up from 30% in 2015 and 32% in 2019
  • 34% usually worked extra hours or overtime, down from 36% in 2015
  • 23% were usually required to be on call or standby, down from 24% in 2015.

For more information on working from home statistics, refer to the 2021 edition of Working arrangements.

Independent contractors

Additional questions in the Characteristics of Employment survey allow employment relationships to be reclassified using the Forms of employment framework. This enables people’s employment relationships to be classified as either:

  • employees
  • independent contractors
  • other business operators.

Forms of employment framework

The following provides an outline of how people are classified in the Forms of employment framework.

In the monthly Labour Force survey (LFS), people are classified as employees, owner managers of incorporated enterprises (OMIEs) and owner managers of unincorporated enterprises (OMUEs) based on their responses to questions.

These people are then asked questions to identify key characteristics of employees, independent contractors and other business operators. The responses to these questions are then used to determine how people are classified as employees, independent contractors and other business operators in the Forms of employment framework.

These questions are:

  • Do you work as an independent contractor in your job?
  • Do you receive a pay slip/advice?
  • Do you/Does your business invoice or bill clients/employers?
  • Excluding wages and salary, are you able to make drawings from your employer/business?

The following decision table, shows how people are classified in the Forms of employment framework.

Status in employment (LFS)Whether considered to be an independent contractorWhether received pay slip/adviceWhether invoices or bills clients/employersWhether able to make drawings from employer/businessForm of employment (CoE)
EmployeesYesYesYes-Independent Contractor
EmployeesYesYesNoYesIndependent Contractor
EmployeesYesNoYes-Independent Contractor
EmployeesYesNoNo-Independent Contractor
EmployeesNoNoYes-Independent Contractor
Owner managersYesYesYes-Independent Contractor
Owner managersYesYesNoYesIndependent Contractor
Owner managersYesYesNoNoEmployee
Owner managersYesNoYes-Independent Contractor
Owner managersYesNoNo-Independent Contractor
Owner managersNoYesYes-Other Business Operator
Owner managersNoYesNoYesOther Business Operator
Owner managersNoYesNoNoEmployee
Owner managersNoNoYes-Other Business Operator
Owner managersNoNoNo-Other Business Operator


In August 2022, the industries which had the highest percentage of independent contractors were Construction (25%), Administrative and support services (20%) and Professional, scientific and technical services (14%).

The industries with the largest proportional increases for independent contractors from August 2017 to 2022 were Agriculture, forestry and fishing (7% to 10%) and Information media and telecommunications (10% to 12%). The largest proportional decrease was seen in Financial and Insurance Services (5% to 3%).

The industries with the highest proportion of other business operators were Agriculture, forestry and fishing (46%) and Other services (20%).

The industries with the highest proportion of non-employees (both independent contractors and other business operators) were Agriculture, forestry and fishing (56%) and Construction (36%).

1. For more information on Industries, refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC)

The occupations with the highest proportions of Independent Contractors were:

  • Technicians and trade workers (17%)
  • Labourers (11%)
  • Machinery operators and drivers (10%).

1. Data is coded to ANZSCO ver 1.2. For more information on Occupations and Skill level, refer to ANZSCO - Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations

Labour hire

For information on people who find work though a labour hire firm or employment agency, refer to Labour hire workers.

Fixed-term contracts

In August 2022, 3.4% of employees were employed on a fixed-term contract (390,000 employees). Of these:

  • 76% were working on a contract with a total term length of 1 year or less
  • 68% were working with less than 9 months remaining on their contract.

71% of employees on a fixed-term contract expected to remain working in their current job in 12 months' time. In comparison, 90% of employees not on a fixed-term contract expect to remain in their current job (ie employed on an ongoing basis).

The median weekly earnings for employees on a fixed-term contract were $1,479, compared with $1,248 for employees who were not on a fixed-term contract.

The industries with the highest proportion of employees on a fixed-term contract were:

  • Education and training (11%)
  • Information media and telecommunications (8%)
  • Public administration and safety (7%).

Digital platform workers

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), like most national statistical organisations, is working to expand its statistics on relatively new and emerging forms of employment, including digital platform workers.

While digital platform workers and their work have always been included within existing labour statistics on employment and hours, they are a relatively small group of workers who have not been separately identifiable.

The majority of digital platform workers appear within existing data as independent contractors, using a registered Australian Business Number, but are difficult to distinguish from other self-employed people without employees.

The ABS developed an initial framework to measure digital platform work and workers, which was included in public consultation materials and also included in the Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods. The framework shows how the ABS has defined and scoped digital platform work and the classification of tasks undertaken by people who are paid-per-task.

The framework acknowledges that the ‘gig economy’ is a broad term that is generally used to describe a wide range of activities, from buying and selling goods to providing short term labour services, such as providing care. However, most of the recent and current interest, from a labour statistics perspective, has been on the supply of labour services through digital platforms.

Further information on the measurement approach and estimates of digital platform workers can be found in Digital platform workers in Australia.

In 2022-23, just under 1% (0.96%) of the employed population were digital platform workers. Of these:

  • 66% were male, representing a higher proportion of males than in the total employed population (52%)
  • 53% did not consider digital platform work to be their main job
  • over 50% had been undertaking this form of employment for less than one year
  • the most common digital platform work tasks were Food Delivery and Transport.

Data downloads

Working arrangements

Data files


Employee earnings

Table 1 - Employee earnings, 1975 to 2022

Contains employees with and without paid leave entitlements, 1984-2022

More information on the weekly earnings of employees available in Employee earnings

Historical downloads

Table 1 - Median earnings for employees and OMIEs by working arrangements, 2014-2021

Table 2 - Median earnings for employees and OMIEs by demographic characteristics, 2014-2021

Table 3 - Form of employment by demographic characteristics, 2014-2021

Table 4 - Form of employment by industry, occupation and educational qualification, 2014-2021

Table 5 - Independent contractors by whether had authority over own work, industry and occupation, 2014-2021

Previous catalogue number

This release uses ABS catalogue number 6336.0*.

Prior to 2020, statistics were published in:


*Note: Catalogue number 6336.0 was previously used for Information Paper: Average Weekly Earnings: New Series to Replace Former Payroll Tax Based Series, 1982.

**Note: Catalogue number 6333.0 was previously used for Working Conditions, Australia (Preliminary), Feb to May 1979. 

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