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The Diversity of Casual Contract Employment

Listed author(s):
  • Greg Murtough

    (Productivity Commission)

  • Matthew Waite

    (Productivity Commission)

Registered author(s):

    „X The ABS definition of a ¡¥casual employee¡¦ includes: ƒ{ many workers who do not have a casual employment contract; ƒ{ a large group whose work is not casual (in the sense of being occasional, irregular or short term); and ƒ{ aggregates across distinct groups of casual contract employees who have very different entitlements and work arrangements. „X In August 1999, more than one in ten people categorised as casual employees by the ABS were in fact owner managers. This upward bias in the data has increased since the late 1980s and is most evident for people working full-time. „X Using alternative data from a new irregular ABS survey, it is estimated that there were 1.5 million casual contract employees in August 1998 (equivalent to 17.7 per cent of employed persons, compared to 23.2 per cent who would have satisfied the ABS definition of a casual employee). „X In August 1998, 95 per cent of casual contract employees had an implicit contract for ongoing employment, only 4 per cent had a job which their employer had indicated was short term, and many perceived that they were able to progress to an ongoing contract job. „X More than a third of casual contract employees had an implicit contract for ongoing employment and regular earnings in August 1998. Many of these ¡¥ongoing casuals¡¦ have been granted entitlements associated with ongoing employment (such as long service leave) because the true nature of their work is ongoing. „X However, 80 per cent of casual contract employees in August 1998 were not protected by unfair dismissal laws, 62 per cent had irregular earnings (excluding overtime), and 40 per cent wanted to work more hours. They were also concentrated in low skill occupations „X The welfare impacts of particular job traits will depend on the preferences of those affected. Casual contract employees tend to be young, female, and full-time dependent students. A large minority (29 per cent in August 1998) are aged over 24 and have dependants, although this group is more likely to have employment conditions closer to ongoing contract employees. „X Hence, whether an employee has a casual contract provides little information about his or her welfare. Where the concern is about so- called ¡¥precarious¡¦ employment, analysts need to identify such employment on the basis of work arrangements rather than the type of employment contract.

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    Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Labor and Demography with number 0105003.

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    Date of creation: 21 May 2001
    Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0105003
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    1. Mark B. Stewart, 1983. "On Least Squares Estimation when the Dependent Variable is Grouped," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 737-753.
    2. Gaston, Noel & Timcke, David, 1999. "Do Casual Workers Find Permanent Full-Time Employment? Evidence from the Australian Youth Survey," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 75(231), pages 333-347, December.
    3. Simpson, Michael & Dawkins, Peter & Madden, Gary, 1997. "Casual Employment in Australia: Incidence and Determinants," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(69), pages 194-204, December.
    4. Mangan, John & Williams, Christine, 1999. "Casual Employment in Australia: A Further Analysis," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(1), pages 40-50, March.
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