81% of Australians support JobKeeper for all Casual Workers

New polling shows more than eight in ten Australians support extending the wage subsidy, known as the JobKeeper program, to all casual workers, regardless of how long they have worked at their place of employment.

The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,008 people between 3 and 6 April 2020.

Key Findings:

  • Australians overwhelmingly support (81%) extending the wage subsidy to casual workers, regardless of length of employment, only 11% are opposed to extending the wage subsidy.
  • Strong support for extending the wage subsidy to casual workers regardless of length of employment was seen across voters of all parties. 79% of Coalition voters support (14% oppose), 88% of Labor voters support (6% oppose), 80% of Greens voters support (9% oppose), 78% of One Nation voters support (15% oppose), and 69% Independent/other support (13% oppose).
  • The Government’s ‘JobKeeper’ wage subsidy program currently only applies to casual workers who have been working at their current place of employment for 12 months or longer. This results in over 1 million short-tenure casual workers (under 12 months) being excluded. Apart from hurting those workers, this will also create a serious disadvantage for businesses which rely on short-tenure workers for their staffing needs (including in the retail, hospitality, and agriculture industries).

“The JobKeeper program is an important and necessary support to help Australian workers through the COVID19 pandemic and accompanying recession,” said Dr. Jim Stanford, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work.

“This research demonstrates that the Australian public recognises the necessity of the JobKeeper program, and wants to see the program enhanced to include the one million casual workers who are currently excluded from the scheme.

“Short-tenure casual workers are among some of the most vulnerable in our society. Many are living paycheck to paycheck, and already living on the brink – they need more support during this crisis, not less.

Stanford noted that the JobKeeper scheme will also exclude over one million foreign visa workers. “Driving short-term casuals and foreign visa workers into unemployment is unfair to them, it is unfair to their employers, and it poses significant risks to public health,” Dr. Stanford said.

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