Regulating casual employment in Australia

The rise of precarious and non-standard working arrangements has received substantial attention in recent times. In Australia precarious work has been particularly associated with the phenomenon of casual work, defined as employment without the leave benefits provided by the National Employment Standards. Casual employment status is at the employers' discretion. It may be long term and involve short shifts of less than 4 hours. In the recent Modern Awards Review by the Australian Fair Work Commission, the Australian Council of Trade Unions submitted proposals to limit employers' ability to unilaterally determine the employment relationship and to reduce the degree of precariousness associated with casual employment. The Australian Council of Trade Unions sought the right for long-term casuals to convert to permanent employment and to extend minimum hours for shifts. This article surveys the evidence, primary and secondary, regarding the extent and nature of Australian casual employment, including its impact on flexibility, earnings security and productivity. In this context, we explore the implications of the Australian Council of Trade Unions claims and Fair Work Commission decision, and present data from a survey of casual employees regarding employment preferences. Whilst some employees prefer casual status, we find that many would benefit from protective regulations, and that most casuals support such regulation.


Author(s) R. Markey, J. McIvor
Language English
Year of publication Jun, 2018
Journal Journal of Industrial Relations
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