The deficit has been widening since 2016
New findings from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) reveal that casual workers in Australia are facing an increasing disparity compared to their permanently employed counterparts. The research highlights that across all sectors, casual employees earn AUD 11.59 (USD 7.71) less per hour in comparison to their permanent counterparts. While permanent employees earn an average of AUD 40.54 (USD 26.97) per hour, casual workers receive AUD 28.95 (USD 19.26), creating a pay gap of 28.6%. This pay gap has been steadily widening since 2016 and has now reached its highest recorded level.
Further examination of the data within similar skill levels or occupations shows that the pay gap between casual and permanent workers ranges from AUD 3.55 to AUD 3.84 per hour, which is approximately 11%. Interestingly, this discrepancy persists despite casual workers being entitled to an additional loading of up to 25% in compensation.
The ACTU research also reveals that the financial situation of casual workers has deteriorated, with 50% reporting a decline in their financial well-being compared to the previous year. This percentage has increased from the 36% recorded a year ago.
Approximately 2.6 million workers in Australia, equating to nearly one in four, are engaged in casual work arrangements. Among these workers, women make up 55% of the casual workforce. The sectors with the highest rates of casualization include retail, accommodation, food services, health care, and social assistance, which collectively account for 55% of all casual employees.
In response to these findings, the ACTU is urging the government to abandon the changes made to the law during former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s tenure and instead introduce a more sensible definition of casual work as part of the ongoing Industrial Relations reforms.