Casuals and the Workplace
Casuals and the workplace, the role they play, and the fairness and uncertainty of employment has become more prominent in recent times. Alongside the recent and changing circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic and the increasing influence of the Gig economy on how he live and work. An issue that has arose is the increasing rate of casualization in the workplace. In a recent interview with the ACTU secretary Sally McManus, she expresses her concern with the increasing rate of casuals at 25 percent in the past 20 years. As it has caused insecurity within the Australian workforce.
During this time of much uncertainty, Australian employees are left to feel displaced and neglected by their employers. However, what is even more concerning is the Government contracting out essential services and the impact this is having upon Australians. The public service now to some degree is now outsourced. In the pandemic were thes untrained security contractors the reason to cause Victoria back into a additional six-week lockdown.
This describes the transformation of a workforce from permanent contracts to employment engagement on a short-term or casual basis. Quite interestingly, in Australia 35% of its workers are either casual employees or contractors2.
The Fair work Commission lists that these casual employees:
- Have no guaranteed hours of work
- Usually works irregular hours
- Doesn’t get paid sick or annual leave
- Can end employment without notice, unless notice is required by a registered agreement, award or employment contract3
Quite often, we hear casual employees not being able to make plans to spend time with their friends and family. As they do not want to promise their loved ones they’ll be able to come with their uncertain rostered hours. Or having difficulties to secure a car loan or deposit because of this insecure form of employment. However, more seriously casual employees often find themselves too scared to exercise workplace rights. This is in fear their employer may take adverse action against them. This can include inquiring about their pay or workplace entitlements. Fear that they may be terminated or have their hours reduced. Therefore, these insecure workers are left with no incentive and are far less confident, as they cannot rely on the benefits that unions have fought for workers.
Casuals and the workplace, trends
Many ask why the Australian workforce has taken this shift towards casualization if they lack these entitlements of full-time or part-time employees. Casual employment is used as a means by employers to minimize costs as they can avoid having to pay entitlements such as notice of termination and leave. As well as employers being able to adjust the hours of casual employees to suit the business, without needing to provide much notice. Where casual employees can be left off the rosters with no means of income for weeks, even months if the employer decides so. Thus, leaving many casual employees in positions they may be forced to resign as they are not receiving any hours, and are unable to support themselves or their family.
Additionally, if a casual employee has been unfairly dismissed they may have problems going to the Fair Work Commission to seek remedy unless they can demonstrate they were employed on a regular and systematic basis. Quite often, business owners and employees become confused with the difference between a casual employee or a contractor. In order to draw this distinction, an examination of the relationship between the individual and the employer must be analysed.
A contractor is an individual or business that a commercial enterprise hires to perform a specific function. As of such, the key distinction between these two forms of employment include:
Hours of Work
Contractors are able to determine what hours they work to complete the task they were hired for, unless their agreement states otherwise. Meanwhile, casual employees are often rostered on to work specific hours, as decided by their employer.
Control and Autonomy at Work
Contractors are not specifically bound by the business that hired them to perform the duty. Meanwhile, casual employees are bound to work beneath the instructions and expectations of their employer. Thus, not having as much autonomy and freedom within their work.
Liability and Risk
Contractors when on a job are responsible for any liabilities or defects. To which they often are required to have their own independent insurance as a means of protection. Meanwhile, casual employees do not have this liability and in most circumstances the corporation will be liable for the conduct of its employees. Payment
Contractors are paid for completing the work that they have completed on duty and quoted the body that hired them. To which, such payment is often done through an invoice and after the job has been completed. Meanwhile, casual employees will receive payment routinely with payroll either weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
Contractors must pay GST and tax payments to the ATO, meanwhile causal employees usually do not as they have their tax deducted by their employer.
Contractors are responsible for managing their own superannuation payments, meanwhile causal employees have their payments made by their employer into their nominated superannuation fund.
Contractors are responsible for supplying and bringing their own equipment to complete the job they were hired for. Meanwhile, causal employees are usually provided the equipment by their employer at the place of business.
Despite these differences, one thing that contractors and casual employees have in common are the lack of security and entitlements within their employment. Similarly, beneath the Fair Work Act 2009, independent contractors are protected from adverse action, coercion and abuses of freedom of association. If a contractor is in a position where adverse action has been taken against a contractor exercising one of these protections, they may be able to make a General Protections Claim to the Fair Work Commission.
The backlash of using independent contractors to run the goverement
Back in March, the Victorian Government decided to put the responsibility of enforcing the mandatory 14-day quarantine of overseas travellers in the hands of independent security contractors. The same security contractors that work amongst the nightlife industry, providing their services to nightclubs and bars. Where there is a known history of ill practice and corruption amongst this industry. In fact, the Fair Work Ombudsmen recently released that this private security industry had far higher levels of workplace disputes. Mostly arising from contractors being used to lower the cost of paying employees lawfully.
Not even two months after this decision, the first infection of a security contractor became public to which lead to an outbreak of the virus in Victoria. Where currently the state is again in a stage three lockdown for six weeks. Where family and friends are unable to attend funerals and weddings for their loved ones. Children are unable to attend school and be educated, even those doing their VCE for tertiary education. Where businesses are being forced to shut down and terminate employees who must provide for their families. Leaving not only Australians, but other countries to ask what possibly could have gone wrong.
The contracting out of this essential service
This left these questionable individuals in charge of such a vital This is without the required training to do so. From breaking up fights at clubs and checking ID’s. These contractors were placed in quarantine hotels with as little as a few minutes of training. Where stories are beginning to surface of contractors not correctly wearing personal protective equipment. Disposing of waste correctly and engaging in other unhygienic practices. Even worse, these contractors were sleeping with infected guests. And afterwards going to other contracting jobs, such as Uber instead of self-isolating to prevent the spread of the virus.
Perhaps if those hard-working employees with the relevant training and knowledge were hired instead by the Victorian Government, the state would not be in another lockdown. The casualization of the Australian workforce and the contracting of essential services is damaging the morale and confidence of our Australian employees.
Workers deserve security
Our workers deserve to have security at work. Where they are protected to exercise their workplace rights and have notice and leave entitlements. These casual employees who arrive at their job and work hard, despite not being afforded security and entitlements should be recognized.
We must start the discussion to help fight for security and fairness in our Australian economy, and keeping our jobs protected. If we don’t act now, it may be too late. Where if it isn’t you that’s affected, it may be your daughter or son who suffers. Together, we can restore justice in our workforce.
Understanding Casual Employee Rights: Empowering Workers in the Gig Economy
In today’s dynamic labor market, the rise of casual employment has reshaped the way people work. Casual employees, also known as gig workers, play a vital role in various industries, providing flexibility to both workers and employers. However, it is essential to understand the rights and protections afforded to casual employees to ensure fair treatment and a level playing field. This article explores the key rights of casual employees from their perspective, empowering them with knowledge and guidance to navigate the intricacies of the gig economy.
Defining Casual Employment:
Before delving into the rights of casual employees, it is crucial to define what constitutes casual employment. Casual employment typically refers to a work arrangement where individuals are engaged on an irregular, intermittent, or short-term basis, without the guarantee of ongoing work. This flexibility can be appealing, but it also comes with unique challenges and considerations when it comes to employment rights.
One of the fundamental rights of casual employees is fair remuneration for the work performed. While casual employees may not be entitled to the same benefits as full-time or permanent employees, they should receive a fair and reasonable wage for their services. Employers must comply with minimum wage laws and ensure that casual employees are paid accordingly. It is important for casual employees to be aware of their entitlements and to seek clarity on rates of pay and payment schedules.
Flexible Working Arrangements:
Flexibility is a defining characteristic of casual employment. Casual employees have the right to negotiate flexible working arrangements to accommodate their personal circumstances. This may include the ability to choose their working hours, take breaks when needed, or decline work if unavailable. However, it is important for casual employees to communicate their availability and preferences to employers in a transparent manner to maintain a mutually beneficial working relationship.
Workplace Health and Safety:
Casual employees have the right to a safe and healthy work environment. Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace, irrespective of the employment arrangement. Casual employees should be familiar with workplace health and safety procedures, receive appropriate training, and have access to protective equipment when necessary. If they encounter any hazards or unsafe conditions, they should report them to their employer immediately.
Protection from Discrimination and Harassment:
Casual employees, like all workers, have the right to be treated fairly and respectfully in the workplace. They are protected against discrimination based on factors such as gender, race, age, or disability. Casual employees should not be subjected to harassment or bullying, and employers have a responsibility to address and prevent such behavior. It is crucial for casual employees to understand their rights and avenues for recourse if they experience any form of discrimination or harassment.
Access to Leave Entitlements:
While casual employees may not have the same entitlements to paid leave as permanent employees, they are still entitled to certain leave provisions. Casual employees have the right to unpaid carer’s leave, unpaid compassionate leave, and unpaid family and domestic violence leave. Understanding these entitlements and the process for requesting leave is essential for casual employees to balance their work and personal obligations.
1: Samantha’s Overtime Rights
Samantha works as a casual employee in a retail store. During busy seasons, her employer often asks her to work extra hours to meet customer demands. However, Samantha becomes concerned when she realizes she is not receiving overtime pay for the additional hours worked. After researching her rights as a casual employee, Samantha discovers that she is entitled to overtime pay under the law. She approaches her employer, discussing her concerns and providing evidence of the extra hours worked. As a result, Samantha’s employer rectifies the situation, compensating her for the overtime hours and ensuring that all future overtime work is properly remunerated.
James’ Flexible Working Arrangement
James is a casual employee who also studies part-time at a university. Balancing work and studies can be challenging, so James decides to approach his employer to discuss flexible working arrangements. He presents a proposal to adjust his working hours to align with his class schedule. Recognizing James’ commitment and valuable contribution to the company, his employer agrees to the flexible arrangement. This allows James to manage his work and studies effectively, improving his overall well-being and performance.
Maria’s Workplace Health and Safety Concerns
Maria is a casual employee in a warehouse environment. While performing her duties, she notices several safety hazards that could pose a risk to herself and her colleagues. Concerned about the well-being of everyone in the workplace, Maria reports the hazards to her supervisor. However, no action is taken to address the issues. Feeling unsupported, Maria decides to contact the relevant health and safety regulatory authority to report the unsafe conditions. The authority conducts an investigation, identifies the hazards, and requires the employer to implement necessary safety measures. As a result, the workplace becomes safer for all employees, including casual workers like Maria.
Daniel’s Experience of Discrimination
Daniel works as a casual employee in a restaurant. Unfortunately, he experiences discriminatory treatment from some of his colleagues based on his nationality. Feeling distressed and marginalized, Daniel decides to raise the issue with his supervisor and the restaurant owner. They take his concerns seriously and launch an investigation into the matter. The perpetrators of discrimination are held accountable, and the restaurant implements diversity and inclusion training programs to promote a respectful and inclusive work environment. Daniel’s experience highlights the importance of addressing discrimination in the workplace and fostering a culture of equality.
Emily’s Request for Unpaid Leave
Emily is a casual employee who unexpectedly needs to take time off to care for her ill parent. Aware of her entitlement to unpaid carer’s leave, Emily approaches her employer to discuss her situation and request the necessary leave. Her employer shows understanding and compassion, granting her the unpaid leave and ensuring her job is secure upon her return. This support from her employer allows Emily to fulfill her caregiving responsibilities while maintaining her employment, emphasizing the significance of leave entitlements for casual employees.
Conclusion to Casuals and the Workplace
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