Casual workers earn $11.59 less per hour than permanent employees

Casual workers are falling further behind their permanently employed counterparts, new research by the ACTU, shows. Across the board, casual employees earn $11.59 less per hour than their permanent counterparts: $28.95 per hour versus $40.54. This is a pay gap of 28.6%. It has been growing steadily since 2016 and is now the highest on record.

What were the other findings of ACTU’s study?

When comparing workers at the same skill level or within the same occupation, the pay gap between casuals and permanents is between $3.55 to $3.84 an hour or about 11% as per the research report. This is despite casuals being owed an additional loading of up to 25%.

New ACTU research also shows that 50% of casual workers now report being financially worse off than they were 12 months ago, up from 36% recorded a year earlier. Up to 2.6 million workers in Australia – or just under one in four – are on casual work arrangements.

Women comprise 55% of all casual employees; and the sectors with the highest rates of casualisation include retail, accommodation, food services, health care and social assistance, accounting for 55% of all casual employees. To help remedy the situation, the ACTU is calling for Morrison-era changes to the law to be scrapped, and a common-sense definition of casual work to be introduced as part of the Government’s industrial relations reforms.

How can the government remedy the problems?

Commenting on the study, ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said: “Too many casuals are casual in name only. Too many jobs that are actually permanent jobs have been made casual, denying workers both pay and rights. The majority of casuals work regular hours, week in, week out and have been in their job for more than a year. Changes made by the Morrison Coalition Govt in early 2021 made this erosion of job security completely lawful.”

“Australian workers deserve reliable jobs so they have reliable incomes. Big business has used loopholes in our work laws to make what should be secure jobs into casualised, insecure work. It is a way of driving down wages and putting all the stress onto workers.” 

“We need to close the loopholes so workers misclassified as casuals and underpaid can gain job security and have jobs they can rely on. We also need to empower the Fair Work Commission to sort out a dispute over who is and who isn’t a casual – rather than leaving it to expensive, drawn-out litigation, where those with the deepest pockets often win.”