New research from The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work estimates that Australian workers are currently working an average of 4.6 hours of unpaid overtime each week, which translates to 6 weeks of full time work without pay, per employee, per year – with an annual worth of $81.5 billion for Australian employers.
The Centre’s 11th annual ‘Go Home on Time Day’ report also reveals the growing polarisation of working hours, between Australians who have too much work and others who can’t get enough. While 21 percent of Australians in full-time employment are working more than they want to, 48 percent of part-time workers and 64 percent of casual workers want to work more hours.
“There is an epidemic of time theft in Australia right now and it is costing workers tens of billions of dollars, each and every year,” said Bill Browne, researcher at The Australia Institute and author of the report.
Each November, the Centre urges Australians to appreciate the value of their legitimate time off by leaving their jobs at the end of their paid workday.
“Today is the day we ask all Australian workers to go home on time. We need to put limits on our work – and push back against the increasingly common expectation among employers that we should stay late for free.
“Our research has shown that employees are regularly staying late, coming in early, working through their lunch or other breaks, taking work home on evenings and weekends or being contacted to perform work out of hours.
“Most Australians wouldn’t dream of working for 6 weeks without pay, but that is happening every single year in the average Australian job.
The Centre’s 2019 ‘Go Home on Time Day’ survey indicated that even part-time and casual workers, most of whom want more paid hours of work each week, are still being asked to work unpaid overtime.
“At the same time as many Australian workers report they would prefer more hours of paid work, unpaid overtime is an all too frequent occurrence,” Browne said.
“In an era of wage stagnation, underemployment, insecure work and significant cost of living pressures, Australian workers cannot afford to give their time away to employers for free.
“To end the epidemic of time theft, regulators must enforce existing rules regarding maximum hours of work on a more consistent basis, and provide workers with more choice to refuse overtime and work shorter hours. Workers, either individually or through their unions, must also demand that employers respect their right to leisure time – for their own benefit, and for the good of Australian society.”
The full report, Excessive Hours and Unpaid Overtime, is available here.