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Self-employment and casual work aren’t increasing, but so many jobs are insecure

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, David Peetz, writes in The Conversation (3.8.18) that, amid all the talk of increasing casualisation of jobs, most workers are still employees, not casuals or gig workers. So what, the author asks, has changed to increase the insecurity of workers?

‘That casualisation and self-employment rates are not increasing is often trotted out to dispute perceptions that workplace insecurity is growing. But retorts like this miss a few key points.

‘First, the real causes of growing insecurity aren’t the type of contracts people are on. While these things matter, the real causes of insecurity are the way organisations are being structured these days. This is designed to minimise costs, transfer risk from corporations to employees, and centralise power away from employees.

‘Second, aggregate data mask variations between industries. Third (and least importantly), there are some measurement issues.

‘… In short, large powerful firms are getting more powerful, but their directly employed workforces are not getting larger. The result is a lot of workers with insecure incomes and a lot of insecure small-business owners as well.

‘This means insecurity gnaws away, even while the employment relationship remains the dominant mode for deploying labour, and employment with leave entitlements remains its main form.’

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