Jesuit Social Services recently made a submission to the federal inquiry into insecure work undertaken by the Senate Select Committee on Job Security.
The extent of casual or insecure employment in Australia has been an issue brought to the fore this past year. During the height of the pandemic, many people in insecure jobs were working to provide the kind of services that we relied on, including crucial healthcare, social support, cleaning, food and transport, in circumstances that often exposed them to greater health risks. In Victoria, a number of local government areas hit hardest by COVID-19 also had a higher percentage of people in insecure jobs.
We know that casual work is associated with an absence of key protections, including sick pay, annual leave and superannuation, that hours and continuity of employment are uncertain, and that wages are often lower. During the pandemic, the lack of protections for casual workers – who are often forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and in situations where not attending work means foregoing pay – was rightly viewed as problematic from a public health perspective. It’s also an issue of basic fairness and equity. All workers deserve protections, whether casual or contracted.
Our submission focuses on some of the key issues impacting disadvantaged people in seeking and retaining employment, and makes several recommendations to the Federal Government.