Oct 12, 2017

Our leave entitlements have dropped to lowest point in years

Australian workers are suffering from declining entitlements, despite record corporate profits and high commodity prices.

Alan Austin — Freelance journalist

Alan Austin

Freelance journalist

More than a quarter of Australia’s workers now have no leave entitlements. This recent shift -- revealed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last month -- extends the long list of the ways employees are increasingly losing out.

More than 2,527,500 workers were found in August to have no holiday, long service or sick leave entitlements provided by their employer. This comprised 848,200 full-time workers and more than 1,679,300 casual and part-timers.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

13 thoughts on “Our leave entitlements have dropped to lowest point in years

  1. old greybearded one

    Alan this seems utterly scandalous. Is it due to increased casualisation/contract labour? Surely there can be no other reason.

  2. Michael

    How does a full-time employee have no leave entitlements? Nearly 850,000 full-time workers without any leave entitlements at all? I don’t doubt the veracity of Alan’s statement, just fail to understand how this can be the case.

    1. Nudiefish

      If you are a ‘contractor’ you can be both a full-time “self-employed” worker and still have no entitlements at all.

      Michael, I’m not one of those rabid commentators, but how can you not know this already?

      1. Michael

        OK, it’s a definitional issue. Someone working with their own ABN can be a small business or a contractor. There’s IT but also sparkies, fridgies, etc. I know many people working like this and most of them wouldn’t change back to being employees. However, I totally agree that casualisation is a scourge.

  3. Nudiefish

    The new gig economy. A couple of days here, and one or two days next week – perhaps? Take it or leave it.

    This is what successive Australian governments have led us to. Voters, you get what you ask for.

    1. Michael

      Agree also about your implied criticism of Australian governments butt hey are not wholly to blame. It seems that developments in technology and various disruptive developments, having already strongly adverse impacts on lower skilled jobs, are now having a disproportionate impact on professional occupations. The future is not rosy unless, collectively, we are able to provide retraining and meaningful work for those displaced by whatever technology.

  4. Dog's Breakfast

    The rise of the contractor gig explains a lot of it Michael. Contractors are expensive, business pays a premium of 25-50% and more for them, but;
    – they can get rid of them easily in the event of a down-turn (true, but not that big an incentive unless it is for a clearly defined limited timeframe project, in which case you can hire a short term worker with all the conditions and much cheaper)
    – you get to hide the expenditure in a different part of the accounts. Yep, almost all government and big business engagement of contractors is based around the fact that they won’t appear on payroll costs. It’s true, and it’s utter bullshit. The accounting profession ought to get it’s arse smacked for this clear subterfuge that they allow and encourage.

    Apart from that, yep, casualisation. It’s a great world out there, that my children are just entering. Thanks Mr Howard, thanks neoliberals.

    And thanks Alan, a really useful bit of reporting.

    1. Michael

      Thanks for your response too, DB. I would add that by hiring contractors, or contract suppliers, companies and governments may outsource their responsibilities, which I find to be another outrage in a long list.

  5. [email protected]

    Wait for the gnashing of teeth and screams for government assistance when the domestic tourism market starts to feel the pinch because not enough people have holidays anymore. Ironic really since the tourism industry the biggest user of casual labour.

  6. John Hall

    Luckily Australia has compulsory voting – unlike the ‘democratic’ US. This is a ticking time bomb that will explode in the face of the conservative parties in the near future. Greed is not good.

  7. alan austin

    Thanks for these comments.
    Yes, I literally did stumble upon this data set quite by accident. It is in ABS file 6291.0.55.003 – Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, Aug 2017. This does not get routine coverage as does, say, the monthly labour force release.
    The data was well and truly buried in table 13, which is titled: Employed persons by Status in employment of main job and Hours actually worked in all jobs. So there is no clue in the heading.
    Then we have to scroll through to columns BI to FV.
    Anyway, no, the full-time workers without leave entitlements are not owner managers. That is a separate category, quantified in columns FW onwards. This group now numbers 2,117,700 people.
    A third category is contributing family worker, who now number 18,700.
    The quarterly data in table 13 does not show how many people in these latter two categories have leave entitlements.

  8. Arthur Sawilejskij

    “Strangely, no reports on this data appear to have been run in the mainstream media. Or maybe that’s not so strange.”

    This is exactly why I subscribe to Crikey , to get fearless, relevant reports and commentary.

    As an economist myself, none of this is news to me of course, but every time I read and think about it I despair at the state of our economy and democracy and the legacy that we are leaving for future generations.

    The current crop of self-serving politicians are, to borrow a term from Rundle “fucking liars” and culpable in their self-aggrandizement.

    1. klewso

      “Strangely, no reports on this data appear to have been run in the mainstream media. Or maybe that’s not so strange.” – Limited News (dominating our selective secretive media morass) means limiting bad PR for their Limited News Party …… influencing voter perception and electoral outcomes.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details