Regulating casual employment in Australia

Raymond Markey*, Joseph McIvor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The rise of precarious and non-standard working arrangements has received substantial attention in recent times. In Australia precarious work has been particularly associated with the phenomenon of casual work, defined as employment without the leave benefits provided by the National Employment Standards. Casual employment status is at the employers' discretion. It may be long term and involve short shifts of less than 4 hours. In the recent Modern Awards Review by the Australian Fair Work Commission, the Australian Council of Trade Unions submitted proposals to limit employers' ability to unilaterally determine the employment relationship and to reduce the degree of precariousness associated with casual employment. The Australian Council of Trade Unions sought the right for long-term casuals to convert to permanent employment and to extend minimum hours for shifts. This article surveys the evidence, primary and secondary, regarding the extent and nature of Australian casual employment, including its impact on flexibility, earnings security and productivity. In this context, we explore the implications of the Australian Council of Trade Unions claims and Fair Work Commission decision, and present data from a survey of casual employees regarding employment preferences. Whilst some employees prefer casual status, we find that many would benefit from protective regulations, and that most casuals support such regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-618
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number5
Early online date5 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Casual work
  • Fair Work Commission
  • Modern Awards Review
  • precarious work
  • underemployment


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