With recent legislative proposals fueling the narrative that casual workers are kicking and screaming for the opportunity to be made permanent, those of us who work closely with the casual workforce are scratching our heads.
The landscape of employment is changing rapidly. Casual work for many Australians is more than a steppingstone to permanent roles; for many, it’s a very intentional choice to better suit their lifestyle and goals.
So why is casual employment good for so many Australian workers? It provides flexibility, diversity in day-to-day responsibilities, and often higher pay rates—benefits that can greatly enhance an individual’s work-life balance. Let’s take a closer look.
The changing landscape of casual employment in Australia
As the work environment evolves, so too does the look of casual labour. The Australian government is considering new legislation that would redefine what it means to be a casual worker and could pave the way for these employees to move into permanent contracts if they wish.
While there may be some casual workers who are delighted by this new opportunity, what does that mean for those who prefer to remain casual? And what are the drawbacks of going permanent?
Casual work: a new definition?
One concern we have around this narrative that casual workers are all hoping for permanent roles is that it impacts the public’s perception of such roles within our workforce. This legislative alteration aims to provide clarity on what constitutes casual employment, potentially enabling smoother transitions from temporary positions into permanent ones where desired. It’s important to note that what the government is proposing here would only apply to casual workers who work the equivalent of full-time hours for a single employer.
Part-time vs. casual employment: what’s the difference?
The distinction between part-time and casual employment is more than just a matter of semantics. It involves different working arrangements, entitlements, and expectations.
A part-time employee in Australia typically works regular hours each week under an ongoing agreement. They accrue benefits like annual leave and sick leave, unlike their casual counterparts.
Casual employees, on the other hand, don’t have guaranteed hours or an expectation of ongoing work. Their schedules can fluctuate greatly from one week to another based on business needs.
The prospects for casual workers transitioning to full-time roles
Balancing flexibility with job security
Moving from casual employment to a full-time role can be both advantageous and challenging. On one side of the coin is increased job security and benefits associated with permanent positions, such as long service leave and redundancy pay under national regulations.
On the flipside, however, there’s the potential loss of flexibility—the very thing that appeals so much to individuals juggling other responsibilities such as studies or child-rearing. Many young Australians make use of the flexibility to allow greater opportunity to travel for longer than the standard 4 weeks granted to full-time permanent employees.
There are other benefits for an employer and employees who undertake casual work, including:
- For employers, attracting candidates from a wider employment pool where applicants prefer or need fewer hours of work than a full-time role.
- Retaining valued employees who may not be able to or want to work full-time.
- During busier periods, an employer can access a wider pool of staff members to cover a short-term increase in workload.
- For workers, greater work-life balance.
- For workers, more flexibility to pursue other activities or commitments.
- Enhancing employee morale, productivity, and commitment.
As a casual worker in Australia, it’s essential to understand your employment rights and entitlements. Unlike part-time employment or full-time roles, being a casual employee means that you have different work agreements. While this may seem daunting at first glance, it often results in benefits such as higher pay rates due to casual loading.
Job security in casual work
Aligning yourself with a staffing agency that specialises in casual placement within your field is one of the many ways one can find security and stability in casual work. Many of the best agencies across the country use apps such as Entire OnHire’s Workforce App to empower workers to control their availability in real-time and pick up shifts perfectly suited to their qualifications on the go. If you’re a casual worker looking to align yourself with an agency, be sure to ask them if they use an app, as this is a great indicator that your work life will be in your control.
The future of casual work in Australia
As we gaze into the crystal ball, it’s clear that casual work in Australia is poised for transformation. The rumblings are there—whispers about future reforms and what they might mean for both employers and employees.
We’re standing at a crossroads here. Workers crave stability amid uncertainty, but the workforce is looking more flexible than ever since the pandemic forced businesses to rethink their priorities.
A shift towards permanent positions?
Let’s not jump to conclusions; the outcome is yet to be determined. A lot depends on how these potential changes play out across different sectors and demographics within our workforce.
In fact, some believe flexible roles aren’t going anywhere soon. Why? Because casual roles offer a balance between personal life commitments and professional ambitions like no other employment type can.
The landscape of employment in Australia is changing, with government plans aiming to provide more flexibility and choice for workers.
Differentiating between part-time and casual employment helps us understand their benefits, like flexible working arrangements that cater to diverse lifestyles and needs.
Regular hours or guaranteed hours? The answer impacts your work-life balance and financial stability differently depending on whether you’re a regular, systematic, or irregular casual worker. The prospect of transitioning from a casual role to full-time isn’t without its challenges, but it does bring about increased job security. Balancing this with the need for flexibility is an essential aspect of such transitions.
If casual work sounds like the right solution for you, there are incredible staffing agencies ready to help you find the perfect opportunities. Check out our clients page to find the top Australian agencies working in your industry.