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The diversity of casual contract employment

Staff research paper

This paper by Greg Murtough and Matthew Waite was released on 14 December 2000. The paper examines the characteristics of casual contract employees.

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  • Contents

A staff research paper by Greg Murtough and Matthew Waite on The Diversity of Casual Contract Employment examines the characteristics of casual contract employees. The paper uses new data which provide a more accurate picture of casual contract employment than has been reported in past studies.

The staff paper finds that, in August 1998, 95 per cent of casual contract employees had an implicit contract for ongoing employment and only 4 per cent had a job which their employer had indicated was short term. More than a third of casual contract employees had regular earnings and an implicit contract for ongoing employment. Many of these 'ongoing casuals' have been granted entitlements associated with ongoing employment (such as long service leave), reflecting the true nature of their work.

The staff paper shows that young full-time students are very highly represented among casual contract employees. While a significant minority are aged over 24 and have dependants, this group is more likely to have employment conditions closer to ongoing contract employees.

The paper finds that whether an employee has a casual contract provides little information about the likely effect on his or her well-being. Where the concern is about so-called 'precarious' employment, analysts need to look more closely at the employees' actual work arrangements rather than just the type of employment contract.

Background Information

Greg Murtough (Research Manager) 03 9653 2163

02 6240 3330

Cover, Copyright, Contents, Acknowledgments, Glossary, Key messages, Overview

1 Introduction

2 Selecting an appropriate data source
2.1 Problems with the ABS definition of a casual employee
2.2 Forms of Employment Survey (FOES)
2.3 FOES confidentialised unit record file (CURF)

3 Conceptual issues and institutional background
3.1 Job traits associated with lower employee welfare
3.2 Institutional arrangements

4 Quantitative analysis
4.1 Personal characteristics
4.2 Employment characteristics
4.3 Summary of descriptive results
4.4 Qualitative summary of econometric results

5 Concluding comments
5.1 Differences among casual contract employees
5.2 Implications

A Details of Econometric Analysis