Will new labour laws ‘accelerate surge’ of insecure work?

The 2020 recession has left casual and part-time workers more vulnerable to economic shock than permanent and full-time employees.

However, recovery for those in non-standard jobs this year won’t exactly be easy, considering the proposed changes to Australia’s industrial relations laws, a new analysis has revealed.

The IR reforms bill introduced in December would likely worsen the “precarity of employment relations” since the changes would “liberalise” the use of casual labour in lieu of more stable employment, according to insights published by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work.

“The result will be a step increase in the broad incidence of insecure work, setting the stage for further dislocation of labour in the future,” said economists Dan Nahum and Jim Stanford.

A surge in insecure work

“Most of the employment and income disruption resulting from the pandemic was borne by those who could least afford it,” Nahum and Stanford said.

As businesses shuttered in early 2020, workers in insecure jobs lost work faster than workers in standard, permanent jobs, data from the centre showed.

Casual workers were laid off eight times faster than those in permanent jobs

Part-time workers three times faster than full-time employees

Insecure self-employed workers four times faster than those in stable small businesses

“The employment and income impacts of the pandemic were starkly unequal, across different groups of workers,” the economists said.

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