Insecure work and portable entitlements: a solution for Australia
Insecure work is a reality for too many Australian workers. Whether they are casuals, fixed term, freelancers or contractors, a substantial part of the Australian workforce lacks the security of permanent, on-going employment.
COVID-19 has shone a light on how the prevalence of insecure work creates weakness in our community. There has been significant transmission of the virus through workplaces, exacerbated by people turning up to work while sick because they did not have access to paid sick leave.
Without portable entitlements, available workplace entitlements are fixed to your employer, and they accumulate from the commencement of employment. When you move jobs, you start all over again. As more and more workers move between employers, or have multiple employers, they may not have adequate leave available to support them when they need it most.
Portable entitlements follow the employee, ensuring an ongoing safety net for more workers. This benefit could also be extended via a portable entitlements scheme to contractors who currently don’t have access to the rights of employees, including paid leave.
These portable entitlement schemes exist across Australia and can serve as successful models for wider application. This report argues for the expansion of portable entitlement schemes via industries and leave types, administered in a way similar to our successful superannuation system and existing approved workers entitlement funds.
- Australia’s workplace system can support the wider introduction of entitlement portability.
- The introduction of portable entitlement schemes could be most effectively done on an industry basis, with specific consideration for each type of leave to be included.
- Further detailed analysis should be undertaken by government based on types of entitlements and industries to be covered in a roll out, including a detailed review of legislative barriers to further portability of entitlements.