In the mining industry, FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) mining jobs entail a company flying its workers from their homes to a mine site where the company provides them with accommodation, and then flies them back home periodically depending on their work roster. As extravagant as that may seem, FIFO solves the problem of personnel working in remote locations away from their families for months or workers having to relocate their families to locations near the mines where they work.
These types of careers are popular in various mining regions of Australia such as Western Australia where most mines exist in very remote areas, far away from residential areas. In most cases, expenses incurred in establishing permanent housing for workers are much higher than the cost of airlifting workers to and from work and offering them temporary accommodation.
In view of this cost factor, most mining companies in Australia have adopted FIFO as a normal employment practice. Another reason why FIFO mining jobs are popular in the Australian mining industry is they allow their workers and families to live permanently near the mine which may expose them to the risk of the total loss of income in the future if the mine closes. If you look at most of the entry level oil field jobs in Northern Canada, 90% are FIFO also. It has been very much adopted by the international community as a standard practice.
Many mining companies that offer FIFO mines jobs generally aim to design work rosters that strike the right balance between the work and personal life of their employees. Most companies also ensure that their rosters make the working arrangements appealing to their employees. In most cases, mining jobs operate on an arrangement of long work shifts for several days. The workers can then spend a well deserved few days off doing whatever they like whether it being traveling or just going home and relaxing.
It is important to note that job rosters dictate the lifestyles of these types of jobs. Most of these rosters operate on a biweekly working shift, followed by 7 days off. However, mines in remote locations often have longer working shifts since the cost of flying workers in and out of work is significantly high. On the other hand, mines that are near major cities and airports have shorter working shifts. For instance, some mine jobs enable workers to work on a 2 days on, 2 days off schedule.
In terms of working hours, most individuals who get mine jobs on a FIFO basis work a minimum of 12 hours a day. However, some mining companies have rosters that require workers to work much longer hours daily. Furthermore, most mineworkers have to work 7 day weeks in order to qualify for one week off every two to 3 weeks.
In terms of living arrangements, most of the accommodation offered by mining companies ranges from portable homes to hotel rooms. Employees also have access to amenities such as air conditioning, Internet connection and house cleaning services. This ensures that employees enjoy the same standard of living at work as they have at home. Some sites also offer luxury amenities such as gyms and swimming pools as a means of attracting well qualified mining staff. However, since most FIFO job rosters have long shifts, workers do not get a lot of leisure time to enjoy these luxuries.
Overall, it is important to note that while most mining companies have pre-established work rosters used for FIFO mine jobs, most new employees have the opportunity to negotiate a suitable work roster based on their coping abilities. For instance, employees who have families can negotiate for rosters that have long working hours in order to get more off days to spend with their families. Employees can also request to work during day or night shifts depending on their preference.
Benefits of Fly In, Fly Out Jobs
The main reason why mining companies employ workers on a Fly in Fly Out working arrangement is to be able to tap into skilled labour that would otherwise be unavailable if workers had to relocate to the towns near the mines. On the other hand, there are varied reasons why employees choose to work mines jobs on a rotational basis. For employees, the benefits of working under such an arrangement include;
• Great financial rewards: Most companies offer good salaries and significant travel and accommodation allowances that make these careers financially lucrative.
• Living in any region: Due to the shortage of skilled personnel in areas such as Western Australia and the amount of mine jobs QLD has to offer, mining companies are prepared to fly in workers from far off regions. In view of this, employees who want a fulfilling career that does not interfere with their living arrangements may live in one state and work in another. These work rosters are also flexible enough to enable workers to travel back home frequently. This means that workers do not have to relocate their families and disrupt their lifestyles.
• Long work breaks: In most cases, employees who work under this arrangement get about two weeks off each month. Few jobs offer such long breaks in a month. Furthermore, some companies fly out workers to other locations during their breaks if they want to take a holiday away from home.
• Easy to move jobs: In most cases, moving from one job to another causes major disruptions for an employee’s family. However, if one moves from one fly in fly out job to another, he/she can retain the same family home. This makes it easy to change jobs and look for greener pastures within the mining industry.
The Drawbacks of FIFO Jobs
The challenges of working as a mine employee on a Fly in, Fly out arrangement include:
• Spending long periods away from your family as you wait for your off days- this can cause family relationships to break down.
• The long working shifts dictated in rotational work rosters can cause physical strain, stress and sleeping problems.
• Planning your “family time” around the sites work rosters can be difficult since such roster schedules can change abruptly.
Overall, both employers and employees can benefit from these working job arrangements. There is a a lot of mine Jobs WA has to offer as well as most of the states. Employees who accept and deal with the short term challenges of these positions can reap great financial and lifestyle rewards in the long term. However, it is important for employees to determine if they can cope with the long working shifts of these jobs before accepting any rotational employment.