Flexible Work in Victoria

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In the last 3 years alone, the growth of the gig economy workforce has increased by 340% in Australia.

What does that mean for people who work gigs, part-time, casual and those who are self-employed?

As the work landscape shifts, so too does the way we support workers finding themselves in less-traditional modes of work.

This site presents facts and experiences from the flexible workforce including The Foundation for Young Australians' findings from the New Work Standard report.

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HOW ARE YOUNG VICTORIANS IN FLEXIBLE WORK FARING DURING COVID-19?

Australia is still coming to terms with what the impact of COVID-19 means for jobs and the economy overall, initial job loss data indicates that young people have been disproportionately affected.

The data and analysis presented on this page is drawn from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Victorian On-Demand Inquiry survey data analysed by Equity Economics on behalf of FYA.

VICTORIA SNAPSHOT FLEXIBLE WORK before COVID-19

Young people (15-24) are increasingly engaging in flexible work and exposed to the risks and opportunities that this type of work presents.

of young people were in part-time work arrangements

of young people were working in casual arrangements without access to sick or annual leave

of young people were self-employed

Since 2016 there has been an estimated 340% growth in the number of gig workers Australia-wide, 53% of these workers are under 35.

victoria

27.3%

Share of gig economy workforce

98,000

Estimated number of workers

melbourne

24.5%

Share of gig economy workforce

88,000

Estimated number of workers

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON YOUNG PEOPLE IN VICTORIA

Young people in Victoria have not been the beneficiaries of the emerging signs of recovery felt elsewhere in the country as they grapple with living through a second wave. Instead the effect of this crisis will continue to be felt by young people in the decade to come.

Top 5 youth unemployment hotspots in Victoria by region:

1. Shepparton 26.6%

2. Mornington Peninsula 25.8%

3. Melbourne - Inner 21.2%

4. Melbourne - Inner South 19.6%

5. Melbourne - North West 19.5%

THE GOOD WORK STANDARD

The way we work was evolving regardless, but COVID-19 has thrown into sharp relief how work can change. Young Australians need new and different support from organisations, institutions and policy makers to navigate the complexities of flexible work – especially in the emerging gig economy.

To meet the changing requirements of an increasingly flexible workforce we need to lift the basic measures of work with a new approach. We propose a Good Work Standard - a pathway to build new partnerships between workers, companies and institutions to redefine good work today.

introducing The
pillars of good work

Our four elements of good work, supported by a number of principles, scale up from essential to preferable. An individual may have different preferences across the Standard according to how they are engaging in flexible work.

Access & Inclusion

Ability to secure work through an equitable approach to hiring/contracting.

Protection against discriminatory practices.

Protection & Wellbeing

Protection against injury or harm.

Access to income security in case of unforeseen events.

Provision of support for personal or community events.

Quality & Control

Fair agreements, contracting and processes for work.

Ability to earn a living wage, access to fair pay and standards for wages.

Access to opportunities for connection through work, representation and advocacy.

Growth & Development

Access to opportunities for progression including ways to build skills and networks.

Recognition of skill development to increase portability of skills across work.

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

It can be difficult to know where to start putting the standard into action, so we’ve detailed a few of the ways the Government and companies can start to explore to ensure all workers have access to good work.

Illustration of four people taking part in a co-design workshop, gathering around a board with several sticky notes stuck to it.

Agenda for change for governments

Apply the Good Work Standard to your own workforce by identifying gaps in policies and processes.

Utilise the Good Work Standard as part of a social procurement policy to encourage contractors to improve the quality of work they provide to their workforce.

Conduct research into flexible work and challenges experienced by young people or elements of the Good Work Standard.

Utilise the Good Work Standard as an advocacy tool for Federal change.

Roadmap for progress for companies
(gig platforms & organisations hiring flexible workers)

Apply the Good Work Standard to your own workforce by identifying gaps in policies and processes.

Utilise the Good Work Standard as a framework for improving the quality of work for your workforce.

Utilise the Good Work Standard as an advocacy tool to influence your industry or company to make change.

Investigate industry-wide entitlement schemes, including portability of skills or leave entitlements.

What does good work look like?

It can be hard to know about whether a job constitutes quality work, and what may look like a good job to you may not be to someone else. It may depend on why you’re accessing the work, what stage of your career you’re in or whether you have access to other opportunities.

Whatever the reason may be for you, we’ve prepared a checklist of questions to ask yourself to determine for yourself whether this work opportunity is the right one for you.

Access & Inclusion

Is the process of accessing work free from discrimination?

Are there any licensing and certification requirements that are unfair and that limit my access work that I am otherwise qualified to do?

Protection & Wellbeing

Do I have access to protections at work from workplace injury or harm?

Do I have financial protection in case of unforeseen income loss due to injury or harm at work?

Do I have the ability to access leave from work (paid or unpaid) in the case of life events (e.g. death of a loved one)?

Quality & Control

Am I getting paid fairly and in a timely manner?

Do I have the ability to give and receive feedback from the organisation I work with?

Do I have access to representation or an advisory body if I need it?

Is there transparency in decisions made that directly affect me and my work? Do I have the ability to input into the decision making process?

Do I have the ability to create meaningful connections through work?

Growth & Development

Do I have access to opportunities for career progression?

Do I have access to development opportunities that improve my skills, capabilities and/or knowledge?

Do I have the opportunity to improve my salary to reflect my growing skills and capabilities?

experiences from the flexible workforce

Instead of working 9-5 in one job, young people are increasingly engaging in what is known as the Flexible Economy - work that consists of part time, casual, gig, and self employed work.

In the last three years, work in the flex economy has grown by 340%. In fact, the average person is now expected to have 18 jobs, and 6 careers, over the course of their lifetime.

To shed some light on the myriad of experiences within the flexible economy and the challenges that come with it, we’ve spoken to 3 young people across Victoria who are navigating the ambiguities, risks and freedoms of such work arrangements.

What these stories highlight is that the experiences of working in the flexible economy are not uniform.  For some, engaging in flexible work is out of necessity and for others the work is undertaken by choice, however underlyingly we heard recurring themes of risks of income security, freedom to align work with passions, lack of workplace support and professional growth opportunities, as well as unpaid work.

When we spoke to Franco, Sakshi, and Nyasha, they each came from a different aspect of the flexible economy, but echoed similarities, which are felt across the flexible workforce. From the importance of diversified income streams for when challenges such as COVID hit, the challenges of precarious work arrangements, navigating employer/employee relationships in a casualised workplace, to the opportunities to learn new skills, meet new people, and experiment with work and life goals. 

And ultimately, even though they all see challenges which they want to see improved, they each choose the flexibility economy over the traditional 9-5. Read their stories below.

Franco, 24

  • Casual
  • Part-time
  • Gig work

Franco lives in Melbourne’s West. He started his flex economy career as a Casual at Maccas, then followed by being a Pick Packer, being hired through a Labour Hire company, and picking up shifts across the West. He then worked casual and part time in WA for six years, in an Indigenous community called Warburton, in Ngaanyatjarra lands, and then with local Government in Walga. After returning to Melbourne, Franco searched for a full time job for four months, before picking up gig work with YLab, and part time work at a Social Procurement Consultancy.

Read our entire chat here.

Flexible work as a lifestyle choice

“I wanted to be able to do things with that money, like travel, so I had to weigh up that decision.”

“I didn’t take up the graphic design course I wanted to do, because about a month before it was going to do it, I was like...I can always go back and master something like that, but mastering social skills and myself was more important.”

Lack of options means you take what you can get, even underpayment

“So a lot people get trapped up in that system [labour hire], where they don’t understand that they’re being underpaid for their labour. Stepping out of High Vis means spending more and more hours building towards a future that is uncertain, rather than a paycheck right now.“

Lack of understanding of workplace rights

“You’re just stuck without any knowledge of what an ombudsman is, at 18, what worker rights are, what any of fair work is, or understand what you are getting into at that age. So you just take it, and keep moving.”

Flexible work as a lifestyle choice

Sakshi, 26

  • Casual
  • Full-time
  • Part-time
  • Gig work

Sakshi is an entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Humanism Global, a social enterprise which tackles the social and economic inequities of women in developing countries. She also works at YLab. Prior to this, Sakshi’s work in the Flexible Economy includes part time Pharmacy work, full time Ernst and Young work, campaigning for Mental Health and Wellbeing spaces for young people, and receiving funding through Accelerator Programs for previous Start Ups.

Read our entire chat here.

Opportunities for self-guided learning

“I think just being open to everything... because you will learn things that you never thought about learning, and really utilise your lived experience. Because I think you walk into a job, wanting to use your technical experience, and thinking that’s what it’s going to be about, but with impact work, and YLab work, I think it's more your lived.”

Connecting passions with work

“I just really loved what I was doing. And I’m probably really selfish in that I only do things that I really love, and I think that’s how I can keep the balance. Towards the end of my uni degree… my mindset really shifted on me only doing work because work gives meaning and purpose to me, that I internally feel is right, and I feel is aligned with my values and things. I think that’s how I kept myself balanced, by just doing what felt right at the moment. And I also left organisations as they felt that they didn’t align any more.”

Precarious Income in the Gig Economy

“With the gig economy...there are certain instances where you do free work on the side, because you feel grateful for all these other opportunities, but your time necessarily isn't valued in those meetings and conversations...I might take longer to do one particular activity, compared to someone else, because that’s something that I find challenging, or I find new, so not having the budget to cater for that means that I have to spend unpaid work to build up that skill set. So in those instances, it can get really tricky.”

Nyasha, 25

  • Casual
  • Self-employed
  • Gig work

Nyasha is an artist. She writes, produces, makes, and performs music under her name “Nyasha”. She is self-employed, performing at shows and festivals throughout the year. Nyasha is also a business - she has an ABN and earns money through music facilitation, mentoring, alongside performing, and royalties. Alongside her creative work she holds a casual job. Nyasha also works casually at Nandos, and has done so for the last 8 years.

Read our entire chat here.

Planning for uncertainty

“[COVID-19] made people realise, it’s not necessarily don’t quit your day job, but just have multiple streams of doing things, because if you lose one, at least you have something else, and have your savings in order.”

Perception of Artists

“I think to people, it may make sense, an artist doing something for free, because the assumption is that music for a lot of people, it’s a gift, it doesn't take skill, it doesn't take process...I don't think people understand how many hours, and how much time it takes. If people would sit with me through the week, and go through with me how many hours I spend on admin alone...Surprise! We don’t eat exposure. We eat food that is bought by money that you pay us at the gig, and through the royalties.”

On why she performs:

“I think that is my favourite thing - to meet new people, to interact with people, because the music that I write, it speaks more than just me and my experience...It’s like giving people the confidence to be free... it’s an exchange of energies, and exchange of knowledge, and exchange of just good vibes. Like hey, I’ve performed, it’s nice to meet you as well.”

Download the fact sheet

Please fill in the following form to download our Flexible Workforce fact sheets. There is also an accessible version available for download upon submitting this form.

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To read our guide to Flexible Work for Young People, check out our website here.

For information on your legal rights and your employer’s obligations check out Fair Work or contact them on 13 13 94.

For occupational health and safety rights and obligations check out Safe Work Australia or your relevant state based authority.