Recently, Freedom Recruitment Agency conducted a survey to its followers to gain insight into current trends in the Australian employment market. We are now seemingly living in and accepting the ‘new normal’ that is our lives as many of us work to get back on our feet to sustain an income and our independence.
There is no question that the last 2.5 years have been the most disruptive experienced by our generation. In 2020, we were told ‘just two weeks to flatten the curve’. The ‘curve’ slowly loomed into more than six months (hello Melbourne!) and beyond with stop-start lockdowns and what has been acknowledged as an endless spiral of not knowing if we would ever go back to what ‘normal’ was.
Small business took the biggest blow with many business operators being offered zero support from the government. While many corporations profited during the pandemic times, (and continue to do so) your average mum and dad business was left in ruins. Many small businesses have closed their doors forever, never to re-open again.
Along with the destruction of small business came job losses across many industries. Many businesses changing how they operate to adapt to a constantly changing work environment. Then came the rollout of vaccine mandates nationwide which further impacted many of the community that have chosen to stand by their values and not buckle to nonsensical pressure placed on them by their employer and ultimately; the authorities that govern them.
So, what is the state of play in the current employment market in Australia?
83% of people surveyed lost their jobs when mandates were rolled out across the country. 14% were able to retain their job with their employer through this time and 3% complied with their employers’ request to get the jab, only so they could continue to provide for their families.
Some have been lucky enough to gain employment successfully after being forced to quit their job over their personal choices. Would they go back again and work in the same industry? Many confirmed they have been burnt from their experience during this time, they would not bother re-entering the same industry they once found joy in. Many of those coming from critical industries such as healthcare, disability support and essential services.
A staggering 67% of those still employed took a paycut and 63% of those surveyed were not able to find jobs as a result of the mandates. Some taking a whopping 50% difference between their previous earnings with many now working in a completely different industry to what they once enjoyed a career in. While some have ridden the wave extremely well and survived out the other end, many have not.
Whilst mandates have dropped across a lot of industries, businesses are still choosing to ‘enforce’ jab requirements in their workplace. This is now becoming a hot topic of discussion and a potential Fair Work Australia issue with many questioning the legal and ethical reasoning behind this and whether or not it is something that can continue to be requested by employers. There are some high-profile legal cases starting to come to the public’s attention around this topic. Most notably, one that is drawing attention is AFL superstar Warren Tredrea suing Channel 9 over their demand for employees to show evidence of double vaccination, claiming this is ‘unreasonable grounds’ for his contract to be terminated.
We have heard businesses across the country are understaffed and unable to find anyone ‘to do the job’. Many small business owners are unable to keep up with customer demands because they are understaffed, with some operating on reduced hours to manage customer demand.
On the other hand, our followers have shared with us how tough they are finding it to … find a job! Some submit hundreds of applications weekly without hearing a response on their application. Those that are lucky enough to receive a reply are not just being barricaded by usual reasons for being unsuccessful for what they applied for – they are now being subject to questions on their personal medical status, sometimes at the very last stages of the interview process. This is slowly but surely, burning a community that has already taken a beating over the last 2.5 years. Many are terrified they will never be able to find work again.
Should we learn to live with what is now the ‘new normal’ or is there a tide shifting?
We empathise with business owners and job seekers out there looking to get on with their lives and go back to what WAS normal. Our hope is to help better shape a future where we are able to get back to a more prosperous and positive employment market in Australia.