Jessica Berry

Casual Workers - Productivity Commission to examine entitlements

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    I will be interested to see what happens with this one. Being a casual worker is fairly common place in Australia.

     

     

    Productivity Commission to examine entitlements for casual workers

     

    March 17, 2015 12:00AM

     

     

     

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    There’s a good chance that person making your coffee is a casual worker. Source: Supplied

     

     

     

    The hundreds of thousands of Australians locked into constantly changing casual work will have their entitlements examined by the Government’s most powerful advisory body.

    The Productivity Commission will be asked by unions to acknowledge the large number in casual labour by giving workers the same entitlements as permanent employees.

     

    The Productivity Commission will be urged by unions to recommend to the Government that casual workers get portable annual leave entitlements, sick leave and family leave.

     

    And “permanent” casual workers should be able to be classified as full-time employees with all the benefits and conditions attached to that status.

     

    The measures would be opposed by employer groups as yet another cost of employment.

     

    However, thousands of workers, particularly the young, are moving from casual job to casual job as the only way to get an income. While casual pay rates usually have a build-in premium above standard wages, the workers do without many long-term benefits such as paid leave.

     

    The Government has asked the Productivity Commission to report on a workplace relations framework in November and the ACTU believes the report should recognise thousands of workers forced to rely on casual work.

     

    “There are 2.2 million casual workers in Australia — that’s one in five Australian workers who deserve the respect and recognition of decent, secure work and entitlements,” ACTU president Ged Kearney will tell the National Press Club today.

     

    “A casual conversion clause will recognise people who are permanent employees in everything but name and give them the recognition and respect of a secure permanent job.”

     

     

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    ACTU President Ged Kearney. Source: News Corp Australia

     

     

    The ACTU also wants workers returning from parental leave to be able to resume their job on a part-time basis if that suits them better than full-time work.

     

    Ms Kearney today will debate Kate Carnell, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at the NPC.

     

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics Forms of Employment survey in November 2013 and published in last May found 2.25 million Australians were employed as a casual employee — “employee without paid leave entitlements”.

     

    Some took seasonal work or had brief stints at workplaces through a labour hire agency.

    Edited by Jessica Berry

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    Guest Guest14361

    We have around 4 to 6 where I work, as we are seasonal employer, spring and summer we are flat out, but the winter very quiet, but enough to keep us permos going. 2 of our casuals get a contract for 6 months guaranteed 42 hours a week average, sickies and leave etc etc, but on a slightly reduced wage, whereas the other 4 get nothing except a higher wage, they are very happy with that. Casuals can be treated poorly as the employer knows they can replace with another, but as above ours love being casual

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    Interestingly the construction industry board addresses this as it is very common for workers in that industry to move from place to place frequently. The CIB require the employer to track hours worked by each employee every two months, so that construction industry workers can benefit from Long Service Leave at the same rate that an employee staying with the same company for that time would. I don't know the history of this - I would guess the CIB union was once one of the strongest (like the newspaper union used to be in the UK). But as Nobby says above, casual rates carry an hourly rating over and above the award rates for permanent staff - whether full- or part-time to supposedly counteract their lack of paid holidays and sick/personal leave.

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    In my industry casuals get 25% more than a perminent member of staff on the same grade. I was a casual for years before getting my rsms visa. I much preferred it that way. I don't get sick so I now have a ton of sick leave which if I leave the job I lose, but I've been paid less to take it into account. I had been pleased I had it before getting pregnant and I thought it would be handy with morning sickness, but I didn't get any. And I thought I could at least use it for the last couple of weeks of pregnancy when I was too big and uncomfortable to do anything, but paid parental leave hadn't kicked in, but no. It needs to be an actual illness or condition (like pre eclampsia) not just being a whale to use it. :-/

     

    I'd much rather have had the extra money over the last few years. I'd be better off financially for sure. Of course, if you break a leg or something you are stuffed, but there is income insurance for that.

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    This is an interesting one, because the assumption seems to be that casual workers want these rights. While that will be the case for many, as you have stated above other people are quite happy being casual workers and prefer the casual loading rather than the sick leave and holiday entitlement.

     

    The first job I had in Adelaide, I worked with a lady who had been casual at the company for 9 years and was quite happy being casual and when a new boss took over and wanted to make her permanent, she wasn't happy! My podiatrist is a casual worker by choice and again, wants to remain a casual worker.

     

    I do quite a few agency/temp roles (by choice), so don't receive pay for holidays, sick days or public holidays. I find the standard Australian leave entitlement of 20 days and having to work a year to accrue them a bit restrictive, so I am happy to be casual to give me the flexibility if I want time off. I also have a great boss, who is happy with this arrangement, but obviously not all bosses are like this, but the arrangement works for us.

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