Australia’s Labour Party proposes more rights for part-time workers

To help workers, especially women, balance family and employment responsibilities, Labour has urged for a review of the “erosion” of part-time work.
By: | October 19, 2021

Labour’s industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke said Australia is seeing an erosion and degradation of permanent part-time work, which potentially sees these workers worse off than a casual employee. “There is a place for flexibility, but insecurity is out of control. Part-timers need more rights, and we are working on this right now,” he added.

Burke was referring to the flexibility where employers in industries such as fast food and retail are allowed to vary part-time workers’ shifts by agreement via text or email without generally paying overtime if hours increase or the typical 20% or 25% extra pay casuals receive.

He said, “Since when did part-time work become so close to casual work yet without the benefits of casual loadings? The benefit of part-time work and the reason so many women in particular are attracted to part-time work is for the predictability of hours and pay to allow them to manage the other responsibilities, which too often fall unevenly on women.”

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Labour is looking at measures in some industry agreements that let part-timers who are consistently doing more hours than their contracts state move up to that as a baseline after a set period of time. The more predictable hours mean workers, especially women who take on a disproportionate share of family responsibilities, will be able to plan their jobs around other commitments, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.