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Casual Employment

Updated on January 6, 2011

          According to ANZ's economic update in May 2004, the number of casual workers has increased steadily over the past 15 years (Munn, 2004), however there is a considerable downfall in the rate off growth of casual positions. Rising from 19 per cent of all wages and salary earners in 1988 to 26 per cent in 1996 (Kryger, 2003-04), and then only a further 2% by 2003, making it a 28 per cent increase in total (Kryger, 2003-04).

         Most casual employees are concentrated in a small number of occupations (Munn, 2004), and according to ANZ; the retail trade is the main employer of all casuals, with 44.2% of all employment in the industry being informal (Munn, 2004). Chris Munn from ANZ states that; The growth in the property and business services has seen this industry become the next most significant employer of casuals, with 30.3% of all employment in the industry being casual' (Munn, 2004).

          While casuals previously have been associated with young people, like students: aged between 15-24; not looking for a long term commitment to the labor market, and females (Munn, 2004), they are now drawn from a wide cross section of the Australian population (Kryger, 2003-04). The number of males in casual positions has increased by 151 per cent over the last 15 years compared to the 62 per cent in female casual employment (Kryger, 2003-04). Implicating that the numbers between male and female casuals are coming closer to an equal (Kryger, 2003-04).

Why the casual workforce has grown?
          ANZ argues that casual work has become a popular form of employment because it allows people to combine work with studies and family responsibilities (Munn, 2004). ANZ's goes on saying; The growth is a equally result of the demand and supply factors, and it enables people to get "a foot in the door" when looking for permanent employment' (Munn, 2004), and in addition there's the actuality that casual labor provides an alternative to unemployment fore those who have a diffident to no education or working skills (Munn, 2004). However as argued by the Department of Parliamentary Services, the states with the highest occurrence of informal employment are frequently the same as the states with the highest unemployment rates (Kryger, 2003-04); this implies that the growing casual workforce is more a result of few ongoing jobs available, rather then the actual preference for casual work (Kryger, 2003-04).

           ANZ' keeps arguing in their economic update for 2004 that; the main reason for an increase in the number of casual workers, are the demand, being the employers (Munn, 2004). Because employers seek to operate their business as efficiently as possible, in order to keep up with globalization and increased competition in the marketplace (Munn, 2004). Casual workers provides flexibility as well as they are cheaper to employ, taking into account that they aren't at liberty to non-wage benefits and notice can be achieved without severance payment (Munn, 2004). ANZ also states that the development in the service industry has contributed to the ascend in casual labor, as they provide work for a higher quantity of casuals than all other industries apart from the retail sector (Munn, 2004).

Pros and cons
          One in four Australians are informally engaged in society's workforce today (Anonymous, 2003), and because there is a rapid and unavoidable growth in the need and use of casual employees; it is important that both sides of the employment relationship are being considered.

          The conflict between employer and casual employees does not position for the reason that there is a lack of human resources willing and content functioning as casuals. The problems lays more in the fact that the employers have a tendency to focus more on their needs of flexibility, rather than on employees wishes for balancing work and family, studying and other free time activities (Sheridan & Conway, 2001). This leads to workers having an aversion towards casual occupation because it considers the employers needs more than the employees.

           For many people, especially youths, casual work may be the only way to enter the job market, since many employers are reluctant to hire people with no experience on a fixed contract (Gaston & Timcke, 1999). Working as an casual worker allows the employee to show that they are able to execute a job, in which case an employer may feel that it is safe to employ the worker on a permanent basis, either part-time or full time (Gaston & Timcke, 1999). On the other hand, this form of employment has been coupled with discontent, low wages and lack of career opportunities (Munn, 2004). And as ANZ's points out in their publication on "Casualisation of the Workforce"; the difficulty casual workers face in a process of getting endorsement for loans, due to the uncertainty of tenure (Munn, 2004).

           As an student, with semi unstable schedules, and different work loads from week to week, were it is preferred to work more in periods of little studying and less when there are a lot of study activities (Curtis & Lucas, 2001), casual employment offers personnel the chance to merge rewarded labor with other activities such as education, and to employers, it offers a mean of obtaining a more elastic workforce (Munn, 2004), leading them to be more competitive (Gray & Laidlaw, 2002).

          If casual work where not an employment opportunity, many employers would rather just hire people with experience, making it very difficult for the inexpert to obtain a job (Gaston & Timcke, 1999). But yet again, an over-reliance on casual employment might pretense a severe risk to productivity, since employers could be less liable to provide proper training for their casual recruits which could lead to a descent in proficiency development (Munn, 2004). There is in fact clear evidence that having a numerous casual workforce will effect labor performance in a negative way (Sheridan & Conway, 2001), as, for example: dissatisfaction relating to absent communication and job involvement amongst personnel who are not employed on a permanent full time could lead to lower performance overall (Gray & Laidlaw, 2002).

            Another argument for allowing casual workers is that casualisation allocates higher impartiality fairness towards the high-quality workers that do not practice illegal absentees. As permanent staff, on enduring contracts, will obtain their contracted wage regardless to their performance, casual workers receive only a hourly rate calculated on the specific number of hours they have worked: the employee that meet up for work, when expected, will then receive more pay (Gaston & Timcke, 1999). However, even thou some informal workers appreciate the freedom that casual work gives (Gaston & Timcke, 1999),  casualisation do presents casuals with concerns as to how many hours they will get from week to week, which can lead to issues concerning workplace safety: personal insecurity and other stress related dilemmas (Kryger, 2003-04).

            Employers want casual personnel in order to control their workforce (Curtis & Lucas, 2001). Employing informal staff makes it easier for employers to dismiss people, since no need for the employee is reason enough. In addition to the fact that the demands for labor may fluctuate, often on a seasonal basis, some times even daily or on an hourly basis, in which case the employers recognize their need to regulate their workforce to meet only when necessary without causing the organization additional operating expenses (Ferguson, 1997). However, an casual worker can also just as easily stop taking calls, in which case the employer can find them self in a situation lacking crucial workforce, which can lead to severe production loss (Ferguson, 1997).

          Nevertheless, even in the case of casual workforce there is a fine line of protocols to consider when discharging informal personnel, as there have been several court decisions that has sentences employers for unreasonable dismissal (Ferguson, 1997). 
The Department of Parliamentary Services argues that another positive aspects of casualisation of the workforce, is that informal recruits are less likely to have work related illness (Parliament, 2004). Conversely the lack of reported job associated illness amongst casuals might be a sign of underreporting due to fear of reduction in wages and loss of employment (Markey, Hodgkinson, & Kowalczyk, 2002). Also it could be as; casual workers are often young and they rarely continue in their casual jobs over an extended period of time, thus do not have the occasion to develop work related illnesses, as the older more experienced permanent staff have (Parliament, 2004).


Anonymous. (2003). FED: Rights for casual workers. Australian Nursing Journal, 11(3), 9.
Curtis, S., & Lucas, R. (2001). A concidence of needs? Employers and full-time students. Employee relations, 23(1), 38-54.

Ferguson, J. (1997). Casual employment contracts: Continuing confusion when protection and free market clash. New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, 22(2), 123.

Gartrell, T. (2004). Australian Labour Party. Retrieved 6/10, from

Gaston, N., & Timcke, D. (1999). Do casual workers find permanent full-time employment? Evidence from the Australian Youth survey. Economic Record, 75(231), 333.

Gray, J., & Laidlaw, H. (2002). Part-time employment and communication satisfaction in Australian retail organisation. Employee relations, 24(2), 211-228.

Kryger, T. (2003-04). Casual employment: Trends and characteristics
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Markey, R., Hodgkinson, A., & Kowalczyk, J. (2002). Gender, part-time employment and employee participation in Australian workplaces. Employee relations, 24(2), 129-150.

Munn, C. (2004). Casualisation of the workforce

Parliament, r. n. (2004). Casual employment: trends and characteristics.

Sheridan, A., & Conway, L. (2001). Workplace flexibility: reconciling the needs of employers and employee. Women in Management Rewiev, 16(1), 5-11.

Wageline. (2004). Casual or part-time employment: Department of Consumer and Employment Protection.


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      Antonio Mcdonald 6 years ago

      This is certainly an excellent resource, thanks for sharing. I definitely trust our joblessness rate gets under control in the near future.