Contract work a choice, not a last resort

by 07 Dec 2011

New research has revealed that contingent work, such as temping and contracting, is considered a positive alternative to permanent work for many Australian employees, who are attracted by the flexibility and variety of work, feel well-treated by employers, understand their rights and are happy doing it.

The WorkPro quarterly Workplace Pulse survey of more than 2,000 contractors and agency-employed workers, known collectively as ‘contingent’ workers, found that contrary to the ACTU belief that workers don’t want these roles, more than 86% of the contingent workforce choose temporary roles, not take them as a ‘last resort’.

Jacinta Whelan, Asia-Pacific managing director of Resources Global Professionals, told HC that contingent workers commonly have 20-30 years of experience and can be invaluable in transferring their skills to younger staff.

Often the reason these workers want contingent roles is because “they don’t want or need the politics – they don’t want or need that person’s permanent job. They are open to leaving that knowledge or transferring that knowledge”, Whelan said.

The WorkPro survey revealed that while 65% said they would be willing to accept permanent work if the right job came along, the same number (65%) also enjoy the flexibility and variety of temping or contracting.

A further 21% said it suited their current lifestyle because of study commitments (9%), a career break (5%) or a reducedworkload (7%).

Just 14% of respondents said contracting or temping was all they could find at the time, while 14% cited pay as a key attraction.

Tania Evans, manager ofWorkPro , said the research sheds light on the typical stereotype of contractors and temps and their willingness to do this type of work.

“These findings paint a picture of a workforce that favours flexible hours, autonomous working conditions and stimulating content. They have specific skill sets and want a work-life balance that is sometimes hard to find in a full-time permanent position,” Evans said.

Whelan added that a range of factors contribute to the decision to undertake contingency work. “For some it might be that they don’t want or need the stability or the continuity of 52 weeks a year paycheck, it might be that their kids have grown up and they no longer have to pay school fees, it might be they’re no longer the primary breadwinner and can now enjoy the nature of contracts.”

She said that it’s very rare that people ‘resort’ to contracts, because supply and demand are meeting; employers currently may not want a permanent headcount increase, and people now want to undertake contract work more than ever before.

Despite feeling empowered, contingent workers are still hungry for information. The following tips were cited as most helpful for contractors and temps before starting a new job:

  • Upfront briefing on what’s expected of them
  • Manual instructions/guidelines on how to conduct required work
  • Information regarding the likely OHS hazards of the workplace and procedures
  • Introduction to other staff around the office
  • Having pay clearly explained


Latest News

The enemy of engagement
Confronting film shown to senior leaders
Untaken leave a burden for all

Most Discussed

Company implements 'Zero email' policy
Corporate Australia missing the CSR mark


  • by Ray Crofts 8/12/2011 11:09:43 AM

    I started working as aProfessional Contarctor 15+ years ago and have continued to enjoy this. I agree with the comments that the variety and freedom a contract role offers is a great motivator. I have had the benefit of working across many industries in this time, and agree that the one thing that you need to be clear of is the expectation of clients before starting the contract.
    Yes, I am always looking for a good permanent role, and have tried a few contract to permanent positions which have not worked out, but still achieved a positive outcome for both parties.

Most Read