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Millions of Aussies earning $350 less than their colleagues

·2-min read
Casual female barista in cafe
Casual workers in hospitality and other industries are earning $350 less on average than people in more secure forms of work. (Source: Getty)

The 2.5 million casual workers in Australia are earning $350 less each week on average than comparative workers in secure part-time or full-time employment.

Casual workers are meant to receive ‘loading’ - around 25 per cent extra pay in exchange for no sick leave, annual leave, public holidays or job security.

However, new analysis by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) found less than half of all casuals got any loading at all.

Even casual workers who do receive loading earn less than their full-time and part-time counterparts, the union said.

The report found more workers were falling into casual employment and other forms of insecure work, which included gig-economy workers, labour hire workers and people on rolling fixed-term contracts.

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Sally McManus said workers struggled to ask for higher wages when they were in insecure work.

“Insecure work gives employers the upper hand in pay negotiations with more than 4 million workers,” McManus said.

“It’s a key part of the reason we have such low wage growth.”

She also said it was one of the reasons so many people were now forced to work more than one job.

“It is a huge problem that a record number of people now need more than one of them to get by.”

There are now 4.15 million Australian workers in insecure work, which the ACTU said was half a million more than when the Coalition came to power in late 2013.

“This report makes clear what millions of Australian workers already know – insecure workers are being ripped off, and the Morrison Government is doing nothing to stop it,” she said.

The report also found three out of four insecure workers were struggling due to higher costs of living.

Casual workers were also more likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic, with the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work finding casual workers were eight times more likely to lose their job than their permanent counterparts.

Sick leave for casuals

The Victorian government has looked to improve the pay conditions for insecure workers in the state by piloting sick leave for casuals.

The sick pay guarantee scheme, which is being introduced on an initial two-year trial basis, will provide five days, or 38 hours, of paid sick or carers leave for workers, at the national minimum wage.

It has been criticised by one industry body as “a tax on business” as the state’s economy recovers from COVID lockdowns.

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