Australian workers urged to ‘go home’ as overtime hours rack up

November 23, 20169:56 am434 views

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If you find yourself checking emails outside office hours, or taking late-night phone calls from the boss, then you are one of a cohort of workers racking up huge amounts in unpaid overtime, according to new research.

The Australia Institute has released the findings of its new study and is promoting a national Go Home On Time Day to urge employees to strike a healthier work-life balance.

The study found the average full-time Australian worker did 5.1 hours in unpaid overtime each week — or 264 hours per year.

“Workers donate $116 billion worth of hours to their bosses, every year,” the Australia Institute said.

The director of the institute’s Centre for Future Work, Jim Stanford, said this equated to a sizeable portion of people’s time.

“It adds up over the year to 14 per cent of all the time you get paid for,” he said.

“So you think Australians go to work, get paid and then do another 14 per cent without payment — it’s a lot.”

Mr Stanford said there was a cultural problem in Australia where many workers were expected to be accessible and able to complete their work no matter how long it took.

In addition to weekly overtime, the Australia Institute surveyed 891 workers and found many were not taking enough holiday leave.

A study of 891 workers showed:

  • 32pc do not have access to paid holiday leave
  • More than half of those with annual leave did not take their whole entitlement
  • That result would equate, across the whole labour market, to 48 million unused holiday days, worth $11.1 billion annually

Respondents cited various work-related pressures as inhibiting their leave, including being too busy, being reluctant to ask, or being worried it would affect their job security or promotion chances.

“We don’t want to see a nation of empty beaches, unblackened sausages and grandparents waiting too long between visits,” Mr Stanford said.

“We do want to see refreshed workers who have had the chance to spend some quality time with their families.”

Mr Stanford said casual or part-time workers who were not entitled to paid annual leave were particularly susceptible to working overtime.

“That’s where the fear that you’ll be out the door if you don’t impress the boss is that much stronger,” he said.

“You’ve got unemployment and especially high levels of underemployment, all of this part-time and casual work, that is very much contributing to this willingness … of Australia to put in extra hours without getting paid for it.”


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