Sep 7, 2021
Casual work – the good, the bad and the ugly!
The number of casuals in the workforce has been increasing in Australia since the early 1990’s, although it has remained relatively steady as a percentage over the last 20 years, at 25% of the workforce. This is why we often get mixed messages. Currently there are around 2.3 million people (22%) employed on a casual basis, a slight decrease as the result of Covid-19 leaving some employees without work.
With restrictions in place and on-and-off lockdowns across the country, many are seeking the stability of permanent employment in this uncertain market. However, if you’re currently not working and looking to re-enter the workforce, there are definitely some benefits in considering casual and temporary contract opportunities, some of which are offering higher pay than pre-pandemic.
Here we discuss the pros and cons of working as a casual employee, to help you decide if it could be the right step for you.
A benefit often associated with casual work is the flexibility it offers. In some cases, you can choose the days or hours you work to suit your schedule, rather than your typical 9-5 workday. This allows you to have greater control over your work-life balance. It also gives you the ability to allow for breaks between the end of one job and the start of the next, without being limited to four weeks leave a year.
However, it is important to keep in mind that you may not always be able to choose the shifts you work, as it will depend on the type of role. **For example, for those in higher-paying specialist project roles (e.g., internal communications, IT projects or engineering projects), it can sometimes offer less flexibility, as the work can be dependent on the project deadlines. However, Bayside Group has on-hired engineers who have chosen contract work for more than 20 years, as this type of work suits their lifestyle.
Gain experience and learn new skills
A casual position can also be a great opportunity to learn new skills or gain experience in an area you wish to develop. This can be especially useful if you are looking to change your career path or switch to a different industry. Temporary assignments can give you the chance to learn things like operating certain technology or software, as well as sharpen your transferable skills such as communication, teamwork and time management.
Working on for an agency on different assignments rather than staying in the one job will help to expand your experience and expose you to a variety of new skills and job settings. This will add greater depth to your resume and help you find future job opportunities.
Test out a job or career path
Another benefit of temporary work is that it allows you to test out a job or career path before fully committing to it. By testing out different jobs, you can find out what you really enjoy doing, what your strengths are and where you see yourself in the future.
If you have worked in the same industry for a while and are unsure about working in a different one, then taking on a temporary job can be a great way to gain experience and insight into the industry before accepting a permanent role and then realising it is not the right fit for you. Some employers will also use temp and contract roles to determine whether they need a particular function before they commit to hiring someone full-time. So if you perform well, it could lead to a permanent position.
Maintain an income
Finally, if you are currently unemployed and struggling to find a permanent position, a casual or temporary job can ensure that you continue to earn money while you search for something more permanent. Typically, temporary workers are paid for every hour/day they work, as well as any overtime. So, depending on the industry you work in, there may be the potential to earn a larger sum of money than any benefits you may receive while not working, especially if you are guaranteed steady working hours.
While it may only be that you work for a few months in this position, it can still be a great way to secure ongoing income, whilst also filling gaps in your resume as you look for full-time employment.
The Bad and the Ugly
One disadvantage to working a casual job, especially in today’s current climate, is the lack of job security. With restrictions in place due to Covid-19 and several states across the country in lockdown, many employees are getting stood down from their jobs. Though it is difficult to quantify exactly, data suggests that casual workers dominate those industries most impacted by the pandemic, including hospitality, retail, tourism and performing arts.
Unfortunately, if you are working on a casual basis, you aren’t guaranteed set shifts and your contract can be terminated at any time, with limited notice required depending on your contract. This lack of job security should be an important consideration when applying for a casual or temporary contract job.
Casual loading instead of paid leave entitlements
As a casual worker, you will receive a loading that replaces all paid leave entitlements permanent employees have. This means that if you take time off – annual leave, sick leave, personal leave or public holidays – you won’t get paid for those days since these entitlements are already incorporated in your hourly rate. This can financially be challenging in specific situations if you have not budgeted for this, particularly for longer periods such as company shut down periods over the holidays or if you are not deemed an essential worker during pandemic restrictions. Depending on your financial or personal situation, receiving more pay when you work the hours may outweigh having these entitlements.
Without a permanent stream of income, mortgages or personal loans may also be more challenging to obtain. Some banks may not allow you to borrow as much if you are a casual worker, or there may be certain requirements you need to fulfill that a permanent employee wouldn’t have to. Although it likely involves more work, it is certainly not impossible, and it should merely be something you consider when you go to apply for a temporary job.
Depending on your personal situation, you can weigh up the pros and cons above to decide whether or not a casual or temporary role is suitable for you. Though such jobs may offer less security, if you’re looking to re-enter the workforce, or are struggling to find a permanent position, applying for a these jobs may be something to consider.