Contract jobs

Contract and part-time jobs

Contract or freelance jobs are available through specialist employment agencies in Australia.

Contracts are usually full time and for a fixed period, although they may be open-ended. There’s a thin dividing line between contract and temporary jobs, which are often one and the same. In recent years, many companies have been shifting from full-time employees to contract workers and contracting out jobs such as building maintenance, catering, cleaning, computer installation, construction, and even parts of the manufacturing process.

Many contract positions are for specialists, in fields such as accountancy, computing, electronics, engineering and mining, although there’s also a strong market in providing catering, cleaning and maintenance services. Rates vary considerably, e.g. from around $14 per hour for a clerk to $100 or more for a computer specialist. Contractors may work at home or on a client’s or contract company’s premises.

There used to be a lucrative market in contract jobs in Australia, particularly for information technology specialists, although the recession in the ’90s put paid to many jobs. Consultant companies (also called bodyshops) specialise in supplying contract staff to major companies. The usual visa regulations apply to contract workers, unless you’re employed to work outside Australia.

Part-time jobs

A part-time job is generally defined as less than 20 hours per week. Part-time jobs are available in most industries and professions in Australia and are most common in cafes, factories, offices, pubs, restaurants and shops. In the last few years the number of part-time workers in Australia has risen considerably, particularly among women, and now totals over 3 million – around 30 per cent of the workforce. Over 75 per cent of part-time jobs in larger workplaces (with a minimum of 20 staff) are in the accommodation, cafe and restaurant, education, health and community service, and retail sectors.

Part-time jobs apply to all levels (from executives to clerks) and all businesses, many turning to part-time work for family, health or lifestyle reasons. Job satisfaction is generally higher among part-time workers than those in full-time employment (wouldn’t you be happier working fewer hours?).

Part-time workers are usually paid on an hourly basis and don’t have the same rights as full-time workers, but pay awards normally contain provisions to protect part-time workers’ rights. They don’t, however, usually receive annual leave, maternity leave, sick pay, or other entitlements of full-time workers, although the balance is being redressed in various industries. Part-time workers are also generally poorly paid compared to full-time employees.

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