Hospo Voice

Casual work = flexibility. Fact or fiction?

September 13, 2021

We bust all those casual work myths

If you work in hospo, you’re probably a casual worker. Most of us are. ABS data shows that hospitality has the highest rate of casualisation of any industry at 79%.

While some people choose to be a casual worker, many of us don’t. We’d prefer the security of permanent employment. In hospo, though, it’s often not an option.

When you try to fight to end forced casualisation, politicians and employer groups bang on about how casuals choose this lifestyle for the receive extra pay and more flexibility. They make it seem like it’s an option you’ve chosen.

But a lot of those arguments are complete myths. So we’re going to go through some of those casual work arguments and tell you what’s fact and what’s fiction.

You can choose to work when it suits you – Myth

Technically, this should be true. The point of being a casual worker is that you can work the hours that suit you. In a casual world fantasy, you can choose your hours and always get enough work to pay your bills.

In reality, this is never the case. Anyone who has had a casual job knows that most employers would like you to be available 24/7 (even if they only roster you for 12 hours a week). 

Plus, there’s the fear that if you say no to your boss, you won’t get shifts again. This is a legitimate concern for many casuals because your boss doesn’t have to give you a minimum number of hours.

If you say no, and someone else says yes, chances are that person will get rostered on next week too.

You get paid more – Myth

As a casual worker, you’re meant to get a 25% instead of sick and annual leave entitlements.

With wage theft rife in hospitality, lots of us don’t get the extra loading. 82% of hospo workers reported wage theft in a current or previous hospitality job. 

According to this article, casual hospitality workers are more likely to get about a 5% loading. So, when you compare it to getting sick pay and annual leave, that extra pay is peanuts.

We hear people like Christian Porter say time and time again that the higher rate of pay means casuals can make their own provisions in case they get sick or want to take some time off.

But when you’re getting a few bucks extra a shift, it won’t buy much for a rainy day, will it?

There is no safety net – Fact

If you’re a casual worker and you can’t work because you’re sick, you don’t get paid.

Heaven forbid you have a serious illness or injury that prevents you from working for days, weeks or even months.

You’d probably lose your job if you had to have significant time off work. During the pandemic, we’ve heard of people getting sacked after taking only one sick day.

COVID-19 shutdowns have shown the impact insecure work has on our industry. Thousands of workers have been made unemployed and most had no leave accrued or savings to fall back on. 

We have fewer rights and more insecurity – Fact

In most cases, casual workers can’t apply for unfair dismissal if you’re fired unfairly. Rules like this mean that casual workers don’t want to speak up about exploitation and hazardous working environments for fear of being fired.

We’ve heard heaps of examples of this. Like workers who have to ask not to be rostered on with colleagues who’ve previously sexually harassed them.

We’ve also heard about workers who have reported sexual harassment and have found themselves without a job or without enough hours to live on.  

It’s just not on.

Irregular hours – Fact

When you’re a permanent worker, you have minimum hours in your contract. You usually have regular shifts and you’re paid for those hours every week.

When you’re a casual, they might promise you 20 hours but there’s no obligation for your boss to give you those hours.

If the venue has a quiet week, the owners decide they don’t like you or any other reason, you could find yourself with one four-hour shift a week. Or nothing.

Extreme casualisation is a lifestyle preferred by workers – Myth

Employer lobbyists try to paint the picture that all casual workers want to be casual. They say casual workers prefer the ‘flexibility’ and extra casual loading. For most workers, it’s just not true. 

Even before the pandemic, 64.5% of hospo workers said a permanent job was “extremely” or “very” important.

Since COVID-19 hit the hospitality industry, this figure has increased to 76.5%. The fact is, Australia has a much higher proportion of ‘casual workers’ than other OECD countries.

If you want to work in an industry like hospitality, it’s often the only type of job you can get.

We’re fed up with wage theft, exploitation and unsafe workplaces. Insecure work is, once again, to blame.

Until good, secure jobs are available to all workers in hospitality, we will not stop fighting for a better and fairer industry.

Want a better industry too? Join Hospo Voice and learn more about how we’re fighting for better, more secure workplaces.

Share your thoughts on casual rostering in our survey

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