What is FIFO? FIFO is a terminology used for mining companies that employ people in remote areas, where the person would be flown in and out, as and when required for the job. FIFO is very common in mining, because mines are often found in remote locations, hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest town.
Generally FIFO jobs will involve working long shifts, for a specific number of days, whilst on site, and all the time off will then be spent at home rather than at the work site. FIFO can work well, and many employees prefer this option, than having to relocate their entire family, where remote areas can be extremely limiting in terms of educational choices for children, job opportunities for other family members, and limited social activities.
So what are the pros and cons?
- On the upside of it, living costs are basically taken care of whilst on site, as accommodation and meals would be provided for
- Because as a general rule, the job would involve a fair amount of time away from work, this gives employees the opportunity to pursue other interests
- Those working FIFO may be given an additional allowance, as compensation for having to spend time away from home, and salaries are often extremely competitive
- On the downside, FIFO can put stress on family relationships, as being away from ones family can be difficult for everybody involved
- Because there are generally long shifts involved, which involve working long hours, for extended periods, it can be very tiring, and there is the risk that employees “burn themselves out”
- The areas where mines are located, are generally not very glamorous, and employees can be exposed to extreme temperatures, and harsh terrain
- FIFO workers often feel socially isolated, and after a year or two decide that the money isn’t worth the sacrifices that have to be made in their personal lives
The bottom line is that employers have a very important role to play when dealing with the dynamics of FIFO. It is vital that employers take into account the impact that FIFO has on the workers and the families involved, that they look at what sort of hours and rosters will be implemented, and how it’s going to impact on the family unit, and that they are able to try to introduce some sort of balance into their employee’s lives.