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A tired relationship? Australia and overtime

November 19, 2009

The results are in. Earlier this week, The Australia Institute published the full results of their nation-wide survey on unpaid overtime in Australia (mentioned in my post ‘Is there such a thing as ‘work/life balance’?’).

Things I found particularly interesting:

  • 45% of Australian workers work more hours than they are paid for per day
  • Unpaid overtime is more common than paid overtime
  • The amount of unpaid overtime increases, the higher the income
  • Across the Australian workforce (full-time and otherwise), Australians put in overtime equivalent to 1.16 million full-time jobs
  • Full-time employees work 70 minutes per day of unpaid overtime. Interesting then that if you total the annual overtime figure, it amounts to 6.5 standard working weeks – a significant chunk more than a full-time employee’s annual leave entitlement of 4 weeks per year. Perhaps doubly concerning then that Australians do not take their annual leave, with 1 in 4 accruing 5+ weeks of annual leave per year
  • When the survey respondents were asked “If you didn’t work extra hours without pay, which of these do you think would happen?” (question 7, for those playing at home), 63.4% responded “The work wouldn’t get done.” The second most common response was that they felt their career opportunities would be impaired at 12.7%Most of these figures blew me away – these are big numbers. People spending this much time at work, and away from family and friends collectively has huge societal, cultural and economic impacts on our country, and not to mention on an individual’s personal non-work life. The survey results go into much greater detail on this, so it is definitely worth a read.

    So, looking at these results, what’s an employee to do? Volunteer to be a guinea pig for human cloning? Chat to your boss about resourcing? Or think twice about how much time you spend inside and outside the office? A small step might be to sign up for the Go Home On Time Day on next Wednesday, 25 November. I have my leave pass, do you?

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    2 comments

    1. […] the same level reported in the A@W 2007 and 2008 papers. This data is also consistent with the Australia Institute’s figures on overtime in Australia which reported that full-time workers were working 70 minutes per day worth of […]


    2. […] Personally I hope this is something they continue to run annually. I found the results from their initial research really informative and it definitely gave me more insight into working hours and patterns in the […]



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