Report

The dimensions of insecure work: a factbook

29 May 2018
Description

This factbook reviews eleven different dimensions of job security in Australia, and documents a clear and multi-faceted deterioration in the overall stability of work in the period from 2012 (the peak of the resources investment boom) to the present.

No single statistical indicator completely captures the full extent of changes in job security, and many dimensions of insecure work are not adequately described in current sources (such as irregular hours, multiple job holding, labour hire, gig work, and more).

Nevertheless, across the range of available indicators considered, a consistent trend toward greater insecurity is clearly visible.

Key ways in which work is becoming less secure in Australia include:

- Part-time work has grown, and many part-time workers are underemployed and work very short or irregular hours.

- Casual employment has also grown, especially quickly for men.

- Marginal self-employment is growing, particularly among part-time, unincorporated, solo entrepreneurs.

- Earnings for workers in insecure jobs are low, and have declined in real terms.

- Fewer workers are protected by enterprise agreements (especially in the private sector), while reliance on modern awards for minimum wages and conditions has expanded.

- Temporary foreign migrants make up a larger share of the total potential labour force, and face especially insecure and exploitive conditions.

- Young workers experience labour market insecurity most directly and forcefully

Some of those indicators have been steadily declining for decades, while others show a more cyclical medium-run deterioration. But combined, they indicate a significant decline in overall job security.

The traditional employment relationship, based on permanent, full-time work with normal entitlements (such as paid leave and superannuation), has been chipped away on many sides. Today, for the first time in recorded statistics, less than half of employed Australians work in a permanent full-time paid job with leave entitlements.

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2018
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