What is FIFO (Fly in Fly out)?
FIFO is a term that is popularly used for mining industries where skilled labor needs to be relocated to a site for a project. The need for this employment status came when skilled labor was scarce in some countries and foreign companies instead took projects to complete them. When an employee gets a FIFO status, the employee and the family is relocated to a town near the project site. The package includes everything that would cover the necessities of living during that period that includes allowances and complete meals. These employees or workers are given a set number of days that they have to work before they can take a break. For example a field assistant may work for about 2 weeks and then get a one week break, and so on.
These projects demand long shift hours as deadlines need to be met and consecutive days pile up costs for the company. Since the accommodation and meals are mostly taken care of by the organization, the employee needs to work an entire day. Although the routine is very tough especially for those workers who are relatively inflexible, the companies tries to retain them with more installations for leisure activity like adding pools, tennis courts, gyms, television etc. These projects do not require a long term commitment but they can stretch for a few months until they are replaced by another team.
Eventually this frequent relocation gets difficult for workers who have a family with children because the surroundings are different with language barriers and access to limited educational facilities and recreation. This adds to stress on family relationships and thus it affects worker’s ability to work in a project. Some mining towns that used to be mostly inhabited by miners got reduced to a very small community of only those miners who managed FIFO status. Thus it becomes a risky venture for companies to start projects in other countries and many methods including monetary incentives are made to retain this skilled labor. This riskiness has reduced allocation of funds for recruitment and training as well because costs are generally very high. Mining vacancies are usually easier to get for people who are already experienced, especially in FIFO projects, than those who are fresh graduates.
If the cost of making a small community for workers and their families exceed the cost of establishing basic facilities for the project, then employers prefer a FIFO setup for their team. For larger projects, there is a proper community that would be aimed to help attract and adjust families safely. The establishment and construction of these facilities are generally done by portable construction material. Creating temporary housing and on site caravans because the closest towns are often quite distant from the site of the project.
Likewise FIFO jobs are also used for other sectors that involve relocation of employees such as those of tourist industry and hospitality services like hotels and holiday resorts. Most of these places are quite distant from cities and qualified or experienced employees are taken through this status so that they can complete their tenure before they can return to their home city. Compensation is generally much higher so that they can stay long enough while financing well for their families in their absence. This is also practiced in energy sector where oil exploration demands employees who can work for over months in a rigorous environment with limited facilities.
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