Pandemic leaves bosses managing from home

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Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Managers and other professionals appear to be the biggest advocates of working from home since the coronavirus hit Australia’s shores.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said more than 40 per cent of employed people were regularly working from home during the first half of August.

In August 2019, and prior to the pandemic, less than a third of the workforce operated from home.

Close to two-thirds of managers and professionals were regularly working from home, compared with around a quarter of people across other occupations.

“Prior to the pandemic, the percentage of employed people working from home on a regular basis had been steadily increasing by around a percentage point every two years,” ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.

“Our latest data for August 2021, as the Delta period impacts were deepening, are showing an 8.4 percentage point jump to 40.6 per cent.”

While there has been a large shift to working from home, there hasn’t been a change in other working arrangements.

However, there has been a modest decline in people working casual jobs.

The ABS said as of August there were 2.4 million casual employees, the equivalent of 22.5 per cent of all employees.

This is down from 24.1 per cent of all employees in February 2020 and prior to the pandemic.

There were also fewer lower paid workers than before the pandemic.

“In August 2021, the number of employed people who were earning less than $1000 per week fell by almost half a million compared to pre-pandemic levels,” Mr Jarvis said.

“This echoes what we saw last year, in August 2020, when lower paid workers and their jobs were also particularly affected by lockdowns and other restrictions.”

In contrast, the number of employees earning $1000 or more per week increased between August 2019 and 2021, by eight per cent.

However, this was below the two-yearly growth rates seen before the pandemic – 14 per cent between August 2017 and 2019, and 10 per cent between 2015 and 2017.

There was also a stark contrast in leave entitlements.

In August, 90 per cent of employees who earned the median wage of $1200 per week or more were entitled to paid sick leave or paid holiday leave.

More than 50 per cent of these employees had access to paid parental leave.

But for workers earning less than $750 per week, only 40 per cent had access to paid sick leave or paid holiday leave, and just 20 per cent were entitled to paid parental leave.

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