$110 billion in unpaid hours



New report shows Aussie workers walking the tightrope

Do you stay in the office after hours? Check emails while at home? Work unpaid overtime for your employer? Well, you’re not alone. Research released to coincide with national Go Home on Time day on Wednesday shows millions of Australians are struggling to achieve work/life balance.

While many workers may feel that working overtime is an isolated, personal issue, the research suggests a national trend of full-time workers putting in six hours unpaid overtime every week, while part-timers work an additional three.

Together, Australians donate $110 billion in unpaid overtime to their employers every year.

While most workers strive for good work/life balance, in reality it is difficult to achieve. Some 64 per cent of people feel like they cannot afford work/life balance while 35 per cent believe achieving work/life balance would harm their career. A further 75 per cent of people would not accept reduced pay to achieve work/life balance. A conflict exists between the reduced hours and flexibility that people desire and the financial consequences of achieving this.

Finding ways to tackle work/life balance should not be the sole responsibility of the individual worker. Australian policy-makers have failed at finding solutions for what has become an enduring issue for workers. It is going to take employees, employers and government talking about work/life balance to see a real change in the lives of all working Australians.

Check out the report: Walking the tightrope: have Australians achieved work/life balance? 

Like a Boss – hot tips for reclaiming your work day

Workers all across Australia kept an eye on the clock and made the 5pm dash on Wednesday 19 November for national Go Home on Time Day.

An initiative of The Australia Institute, the day promotes conversations about the significant physical and mental health consequences of poor work/life balance and the impact this can also have on workplace productivity.

Public polling shows that three out of four people think employers have more power than employees in negotiating work/life balance. But with Australians ‘donating’ a cumulative $110 billion in unpaid overtime to their employers every year, it’s important to find some savvy strategies for getting out the door on time. Here are five tips to help master the balance:

  1. Decide what time you’re going home before you go to work

  2. Identify early any tasks that might prevent you from going home on time and speak to your manager about their expectations

  3. Take a lunch break – it can clear the head and boost productivity

  4. Schedule activities for after work e.g. meet a friend at the gym, take the kids to the park

  5. Make a commitment to go home on time once a week or once a month; it’s easier to do something if it is seen as routine. 

Queensland to invest in more mines

What a week it’s been in the Sunshine State. Last Sunday, G20 leaders were in Brisbane and issued their final statement, including a commitment to phase out subsidies to fossil fuel.

The very next day, Queensland premier Campbell Newman announced that his government would spend taxpayers money to subsidise the development of a huge coal project in the state’s Galilee Basin.

Ah, Queensland – no subsidies one day, new subsidies the next.

Of course Queensland government subsidies to the coal industry are nothing new. In June we released our report Mining the Age of Entitlement: state government assistance to the minerals and fossil fuel industries which showed that Queensland had spent $8 billion on assistance to coal – measures which Queensland Treasury says reduces spending on other services like schools and hospitals.

Queenslanders are understandably upset about subsidies to an Indian coal company when their state is cutting services like health and education.

What’s even more surprising is that financial analysts think that the coal mine in question, Adani’s Carmichael mine, is not financially viable. Two other events this week make the Carmichael mine look even more remote – the announcement of US and China commitments to reducing carbon emissions and the Indian Energy Minister announcing his aim to end Indian thermal coal imports within three years.

What’s interesting about the Queensland government’s announcement is that there are no details about how much they are prepared to spend on subsidising the project. The reason there is no detail? Well, the Newman government has the difficult task of coming up with a subsidy that is big enough to get the project going, but not so big as to incite Queensland taxpayers into open revolt in the lead up to the state election.

Because of this difficulty, we’ll be hearing plenty more about coal subsidies in Queensland.

The Australia Institute’s Rod Campbell has been in the thick of all this! He has spent this week talking to communities, politicians and the media in Brisbane, Bundaberg and Gympie. TAI’s work on the role of coal in the Queensland economy, subsidies to fossil fuels and energy poverty was well received.

TAI in the media

The sixth annual Go Home on Time day caught the attention of businesses, workers and the media across the nation this week. Some highlights include:
The Project
Channel 10 News
Channel 7 News
SBS News
Fairfax newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald
ABC’s ‘AM’ program


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