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FIFO Mining Jobs – What’s It Like to Fly In Fly Out?

What is FIFO?

Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) jobs are those where employees fly in to their work site for the duration of their roster, before flying out to their preferred location when off duty. Mining companies provide high-quality lodging, catered meals, cleaning and recreation facilities for workers living on site. This article covers basic information you should know before applying for a FIFO job.

FIFO Accommodation

Mining companies work hard to make mine site living an enticing prospect for potential FIFO candidates. Living quarters can be anything from small portable homes with a private en suite right through to luxury hotel-type accommodation. Regardless of the style, workers can expect fully-equipped rooms with comfortable beds, television, phone and internet connection. Many FIFO workers also have access to a gymnasium and swimming pool, amongst other recreational facilities.

FIFO Rosters

The FIFO lifestyle is dictated by a roster. A typical FIFO roster in mining is 2 weeks on, 1 week off. More remote mining sites may stipulate longer term rosters such as month on, month off rosters. This is due to the increased time and costs of flying workers to and from remote areas. Sites closer to city areas and major airports often allow shorter rosters such as 2 days on, 2 days off. Other common roster periods are 9 days on, 5 days off or 6 days on, 4 days off.

FIFO workers are expected to work long shifts. A 12-hour shift is common but you may be asked to work even more hours - 18-hour shifts are not unheardof.  While on-site, shifts are scheduled 7 days a week. Longer rosters such as month on, month off rosters may allow one day’s rest every second weekend. Most rosters, however, require staff to work every day while on site.

When negotiating a FIFO roster, give careful consideration to your coping abilities. Can you cope with living for extended periods on a mine site, or would you prefer shorter on-site stays? Are you willing to work a combination of day and night shifts, or would you prefer to work only during the day?

Benefits of FIFO

People choose FIFO work for many reasons, some of which are listed here. FIFO arrangements benefit both mining companies and mine employees. For mining companies, FIFO facilitates employment of skilled individuals who would otherwise be unwilling to relocate to remote areas. For employees, the benefits include:
  • Financial rewards. Mining companies pay significant travel and living allowances on top of excellent base salaries. In addition, tax concessions may apply for workers in remote areas.
  • Live anywhere. Skills shortage in Australia means mining companies are willing to fly workers from just about any location. FIFO workers can even live interstate in the location of their choice while continuing to enjoy a mining career. This is especially helpful to FIFO parents with school aged children. Parents can pursue a mining career without disrupting children’s schooling.
  • Extended time off. Long breaks in between shifts give people the chance to travel, pursue hobbies and spend quality time with friends and family. As a FIFO worker, you can choose to fly home or fly to any other location in the world during your rest and relaxation (R&R) period.
  • Changing jobs is easier. FIFO employees can change jobs with minimal disruption to their family and home life. A constant home base and flexible worksite makes it easy for people to change jobs, work assignments and employers to facilitate career growth and secure new income when a project ends.
  • Frequent Flyer Rewards. Depending on the airline use to commute, FIFO staff may enjoy frequent flyer rewards. Even though the employer pays for flights, it is the employee who quickly accumulates points that can be used to offset the costs of leisure holidays.

FIFO Challenges

FIFO creates challenges for the workers themselves, but also for the friends and family they leave behind. These include:
  •  Extended periods away from your family and friends
  • Body clock adapting to change in roster from family time in your home base to work roster time
  • The highs of coming home versus lows of leaving for work
  • Relationship strain from being out of the home working long hours
  • Roster changes that make it hard to plan social events in your home base
 
Whether FIFO benefits make the challenges worthwhile comes down to personal opinion. Many people enjoy the FIFO lifestyle, making it a long term career choice. Other people choose to accept the challenges for a short period of time, in the hope of making fast financial gains.

If you’re considering a FIFO position, try to negotiate a roster that suits your lifestyle. Consider your personal tolerance for working long hours away from home, as well as your family’s ability to cope without you, before committing to any FIFO arrangement.

Related Resources:

Visit our Mining Lifestyle Guide for more articles about employment in the mining sector.
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