Keepin’ it casual: Casualization of the workforce

Casualization of the workforce. You may have heard of it. Permanent, full-time jobs are becoming increasingly hard to come by and are being replaced by insecure and uncertain jobs. Being a millennial and working casually kind of work hand in hand. Balancing study, a social life and a few days of work a week, well it just works. But what happens when it’s not quite working anymore? At the end of the day, casualization can make your work feel unvalued, make you feel unsure of your future and make it difficult to apply for permanent positions and credit cards. After five years of working casually, here’s my rant and here’s how I navigate the uncertain world of casual work.

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Expectations

When I’ve worked casually, it’s never been quite casual. I’ve had immense responsibility and been expected to work on certain projects on certain days and certain hours. Whilst I welcome EVERY opportunity with enthusiasm, excitement and a can-do attitude, it’s hard to not feel pressure when there are such high expectations of you.

Sick of no sick leave

I get that it’s kind of the whole deal with casual work. No leave, no sick days, nothing. So you go to work when you shouldn’t because you’re sick. You push yourself when you shouldn’t because you can’t afford to take a day off. And you run yourself to the ground with no bonus.

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Casual employment working against you

So you’re looking for a permanent job to have some sort of security in your life (crazy right?). It turns out that being a casual employee can work against you. Recently, I’ve been looking for jobs with a bit more security within my organisation. I came across a fixed-term position that was PERFECT! It was similar to the position I’m currently doing and would’ve been an exciting new opportunity. But no, you had to already be on a fixed-term or permanent contract. I just don’t understand how you’re immediately ineligible purely because you’ve only ever worked casually?! Again it’s the feeling like your work and your commitment is not valued by the institution. You’re ‘in’ when they want you in, but you’re out, you’re gone in an instant.

People treat you like milk, you’ve got an expiry date

I find that the most difficult thing about working casually is that people know and remind you that you have an expiry date. It stops you from reaching your full potential and taking complete ownership of projects. I totally understand because it would be pretty shit having someone come in, change and initiate projects, and then leave. But what if they don’t want to leave? What if they want to stick around and make a real difference? Unfortunately, it just feels like my talent and skills are wasted.

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Holidays whenever you want

Believe it or not, there’s a benefit to being employed casually and that is… holidays whenever you want*!!! Oh shit, right, I forgot that conditions apply. *Technically, you can holiday whenever you want. But you do so with the risk of not coming back to a job. Oh, and of course, it’s not paid because you don’t have leave. If you wish to have time off when it’s busy, it’s likely they won’t be happy.

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You might just think that I’m complaining. I want to be clear and say that I am incredibly grateful for the chance to work and earn an income. I’ve had it pretty damn good, I love my job, I love who I work for and I love who I work with. The reason I’m writing this post is because there are many people who aren’t so lucky. And one day, that could be me. My Dad always said that when you’re casual, your contract ends the minute you clock off and starts again the next morning (if there’s a next morning). The matter of fact is, that casuals are unfairly relied upon and that reliance is growing.

Sure this has short-term implications and leads to a bit of frustration. But it also has serious long-term consequences. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the University of Wollongong is comprised of 71% casual employees. That is INSANE! Call me crazy, but don’t you think that universities should be investing in the wellbeing, happiness and retention of hard-working, passionate employees to contribute back to a thriving, world-class institution?

The way I see it, one day, I’ll move on. I’ll be another number on their register that is no longer submitting fortnightly timesheets and they’ll replace me with another number. I’ll invest my passion, enthusiasm, skills and dedication to another employer. And if I can’t find one, then I’ll invest it back into myself. It’s a harsh but necessary reminder that in life, especially your working life, you have to look after yourself. You have to keep your best interests in mind and you have to be your own biggest supporter.

I’ve loved working casually and it’s opened some amazing opportunities for me. And I’m happy to keep working casually whilst I save my money, especially whilst I have my Gap Year 2.0. But I’m not sure about living my life with such uncertainty in employment. It doesn’t quite work for me.

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[A big thanks to all of the incredible colleagues who make me feel more than my employee type and make me feel valued, supported, encouraged and creative!]

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