Media Release 22/7/2021 – Young Workers Report 2021
“Job insecurity helps bad bosses to get away with wage theft”
The Covid-19 pandemic put a spotlight on insecure work, showing that it hurts young workers and impacts their livelihoods, and mental health and wellbeing.
The Young Workers’ Centre’s annual survey for 2021 has also shown that insecure work helps bad bosses get away with wage theft, creates a power imbalance that makes it harder for young workers to assert their rights without fear of losing their jobs.
3 out of 4 young workers who responded to the survey are in insecure work – most are in casual jobs which means they don’t have the certainty or security of ongoing work. Insecure work means many young people work multiple jobs and must juggle unreliable and unpredictable access to work and income.
Insecure work gives employers too much control over young workers’ livelihoods. Bad employers can effectively prevent young workers from speaking up about problems at work by creating a climate of fear.
Young people are getting ripped off at work:
- 42.1% experienced wage theft by not being paid for all the hours they have worked.
One respondent to the survey said: “I have experienced underpayment in almost every job I have had since I was 14 years old.”
Another said: “I am afraid of trying to recover the money I am owed.”
- 36% have been injured at work in the last 12 months.
- The hospitality industry measured worse on insecurity of work, wage theft, unsafe work practices and bullying and harassment. For example, 46% of young hospitality workers had wages stolen.
- Almost half of young workers surveyed (49%) said that they wouldn’t speak up about problems at work like wage theft, unsafe conditions or try to recover unpaid wages for fear of losing their jobs.
Urgent action is needed to make it harder for employers to exploit young workers. We are calling on the ACT Government to act to improve job security and protections for young workers and to stop bad employers from operating in the ACT. The ACT has an opportunity to set the standard for protecting young workers’ wellbeing and ensuring that good businesses are not disadvantaged because they are doing the right thing.
The following quotes are attributable to Arian McVeigh, Manager Young Workers Centre
“It’s obvious that too many employers are prepared to use their power to exploit young workers who don’t have the security to fight back without risking their jobs. We need to fix the system to protect young workers.”
“Enough is enough. We are failing an entire generation of young people who are being exploited and treated as disposable. The link between casual, insecure work and the exploitation of young workers is clear. Wage-theft and unsafe work practices won’t be fixed until young workers are given the protection and security they need to stand up to dodgy bosses.”
“This report shows that hospitality workers are more likely than other young worker to be insecurely employed, to have wages stolen and to be injured at work. All employers who are doing the right thing should support our calls for action to clean up the industry so that dodgy bosses don’t have a commercial advantage.”
Contact details: Arian McVeigh, Manager Young Workers Centre: 0477 850 339