Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4282 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
Casual work means inadequate entitlements and an inability to save for retirement income. Casual workers can also have difficulty obtaining a loan to buy a car or a house. Fewer than three per cent of casual employees have access to any form of paid leave. Casual employees have a much higher retrenchment rate, often 50 per cent higher than permanent employees. This is a significant figure. It highlights the high level of uncertainty that long-term casual workers face.
Another point I would like to raise today is the misconception that casual workers move easily between jobs and do not suffer any significant loss when employment is terminated. This is manifestly not the case. Long-term casuals, that ever-increasing group of workers, do suffer on redundancy, whether it is the trauma associated with the actual termination of employment, the loss of earnings in the subsequent period of unemployment after termination, or the loss of non-transferable credits, such as sick pay.
However you look at it, there is a significant problem developing and a challenge for our community to face. That is why I have brought this motion to the Assembly this morning. It should be of great concern to the legislature that a large and increasing proportion of private sector workers in the ACT are deprived of their basic employment entitlements such as award minimum remuneration, leave entitlements, and superannuation, and fall on the blind side of statutory protection such as occupational health and safety-particularly in relation to shift work-job training and career development.
There are indications that a number of employers are misusing the ability to hire labour on a casual basis. By treating the casual work force as effectively a permanent and full-time force, employers are avoiding the costs of conditions laid down in awards and certified agreements for permanent employees; that is, casuals have no access to paid sick leave, minimum weekly hours or other basic entitlements. The standard casual loading of 15 per cent is, on these indications, a cheap price for employers to pay to avoid these other on-costs.
It is young people who bear the brunt of this undermining of conditions. A new report into the casualisation of young people's jobs in the Australian work force has found the growth of a second-class work force. The report Don't bother coming in today, compiled by the Australian Young Christian Workers, found that casual workers often have substandard conditions. The report found that 55 per cent did not know their correct rate of pay, 61 per cent had worked while they were sick, 41 per cent wanted more hours, 26 per cent wanted permanent work and 33 per cent were working unpaid overtime. The report went on to conclude:
The jobs that are casualised usually have lower rates of pay, worse conditions, are insecure, have few guaranteed employment benefits, and provide minimal opportunities for advancement. Even where casual workers have legal entitlements, many employers ignore them, and the workers are not in a position to insist on those rights ...
The Australian Bureau of Statistics backs up the report's claims that youth casualisation is a significant phenomenon in Australia. The latest figures show that two-thirds of 15 to 19-year-olds are now employed on a casual basis. While casual work is seen as the