Nearly half of all Australians with jobs are working from home in a massive change to workplace structure forced by the coronavirus crisis.
The new picture of the workplace comes as the prime minister calls for workers and bosses to unite on industrial reforms aimed at stimulating productivity after the coronavirus crisis.
Of those who aren’t working at home, nine in 10 say it’s because they have the kind of job that can’t be done from a home office, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports on Monday.
Women were more likely to be at home, with 56 per cent doing their jobs in a makeshift office, compared with 38 per cent of men.
The ABS also found a small uptick in the number of people saying they had work in early May compared with April, and a drop in those who had jobs but weren’t doing any paid hours.
It says these numbers aren’t comparable with the official labour force statistics for May, which will be published in a month’s time, but could indicate an improvement in conditions.
Nearly 600,000 Australians lost jobs in April, sending the unemployment rate up to 6.2 per cent, while more than six million others are on wage subsidies.
Treasury has forecast unemployment will reach 10 per cent by the end of June.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says this economic devastation will prompt a new sense of urgency for a long-running bid to reform workplace laws.
He believes Australia’s resilience to date had motivated employers and employees to settle for the current system rather than push for reform.
“There has been a rigidity in the relationships between employees and employers prior to going into the crisis,” the prime minister told The Australian.
“What’s important is that we are able to have a set of new arrangements in place and they can both do well and not be held back.”
Mr Morrison said he was optimistic about union cooperation, while also taking a shot at Labor for hinting at a combative approach to reforms.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says the nation needs a plan for where people can get back into employment, noting the hospitality sector where many jobs have been stripped out will reopen very slowly.
“My office is in a strip shopping centre in Marrickville and there are so many ‘for lease’ signs,” he told John Laws on radio 2SM.
“There are people who have just closed up shop and they’re gone, they’re not coming back.”
Meanwhile, the Greens want to increase net debt by between $250 billion and $300 billion over the next 10 years, bringing it to about 44 per cent of gross domestic product.
The massive borrowing would pay for public transport, electricity grid transformation, public health, education, housing and manufacturing.
Australians under 30 would be guaranteed a job or free education.