Hospo Voice

Casual at 46: The Impact of Casualisation of the Workforce

June 21, 2021

5 reasons we need to stop casualisation

Casualisation is rife in hospitality. ABS data shows our industry has the highest rate of casualisation at 79%. We’re constantly told by industry groups and the government that everyone in hospo is young or wants the freedom of casual work because of its supposed flexibility.

It’s simply bull. The industry has become casualised and for many of us, we just can’t find any other type of job. There are plenty of us who want to work in hospo but also want a stable, financially secure life.

People like Hospo Voice member Tamara, who has been working as a casual in hospitality for over 25 years. Unfortunately, at times she’s found it pretty shit. Here’s how the casualisation of the hospo workforce has affected her.

1. No job security = no financial security

Being a casual has an enormous impact on every aspect of your financial life. Many of our financial institutions want you to have paid, secure employment before you can get a mortgage or a credit card. If you don’t have that, often lenders or creditors won’t even look at you. 

Tamara was lucky in that she and her husband got a mortgage around 20 years ago when banks were more flexible with loans. But it has trapped them ever since. 

We have never qualified to refinance. Because of the casualisation of our roles, the insecurity of the industry we’re in and because I had children. We have lived for 15 years without credit cards and with no line of credit,” she said. 

By casualising our industry, it means we have a generation of hospo workers who won’t be able to own their own homes and set themselves up for the future.

2. Income like a Yo-Yo

Tamara lives in a touristy area where the industry used to run from September to April. These days, it’s shortened to about 6 weeks and she has periods with no shifts at all. 

So what happens? When life throws things at you, you don’t have any buffer to pay for them. 

We haven’t been able to insure the house at times. We’ve had cars that haven’t been insured and been off the road… We’ve had illness that hasn’t been treated soon enough because we haven’t been able to afford to. It’s a flow on effect for families.

3. Voiceless

Did you know that 38% of hospo workers have reported losing shifts or their job because they stood up for their rights at work? Rights like not being harassed or being paid the right wage. 

A lot of players around here still don’t do the right thing here and everyone is so scared, because it’s so hard to get stable employment,” Tamara said.

Hospo workers are standing together to demand secure jobs that we can count on.

Join us

4. Holidays, what holidays?

It’s nice to have a break every now and again, isn’t it? It’s pretty much impossible if you’re a casual in hospo, particularly if you also have kids. 

When you take holidays with kids, you don’t want to affect their schooling too much. When you work outside the metropolitan areas where there’s tourism, that’s when you’re going to get your hours. When you’re working in hospo, peak working periods are often holiday times,” she said. 

Plus, heaps of people are scared to take time off because they’re not sure if they’ll have a job when they get back. And how do you even afford it when you’re not getting any annual leave?! 

Sorry kids, no beach holiday this year (or any year).

5. Super down the toilet

If you’re earning more than $450 a month, your employer has to pay you super. Even if you’re a casual. However, if you struggled last year over COVID, you may have accessed your super like Tamara did. 

Tamara isn’t alone. 32% of hospitality workers accessed their super last year.

So what’s the solution? 

Feeling bleak? Casualisation sucks, but there are things we can do. According to Tamara, there needs to be some fundamental change in the way we view the entire industry. Hospitality workers need to be valued more highly and paid appropriately.

Our industry has had the professionalism gutted from it. That’s what the fundamental problem is. When I got into it, it was a trade and we were equal to a plumber and an electrician in value. 

An electrician can kill someone and so can a chef. So why aren’t we paid and respected for the same level of care we have to take with peoples’ lives in what we do? Including the wait staff who need to put the right plate in front of someone. 

How much value do we place on peoples’ lives in terms of safety and public risk? We have to pay for that.”

Preach sister.

So what can you do to help make that change? Join us at Hospo Voice to fight. Fight for what you’re worth, fight for the right for security, fight for a voice. You deserve it.

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