|Issue No 108||24 August 2001|
Australians Work Too Much, Too Long
The ACTU is gearing up for its Reasonable Hours claim with field research to tell a simple story - many Australians are working hours that are too long.
A group of researchers headed by Barbara Pocock of Adelaide University interviewed 53 workers and their families to gauge the effect on them of unreasonable hours of work. The finding is that working long hours corrode community and family life. People are missing important time with children and partners, giving up hobbies and friendships. The full report will be launched in the near future.
So why do people do it? Some do it for money and get caught in the overtime trap. They become accustomed to the higher take home pay and come to rely on the extra hours. But when you consider the high levels of unpaid overtime that Australians work money can't be the primary reason for working long hours. The research shows that a strong factor is 'culture'. Organisations placing a lot of pressure on workers to work beyond standard hours and to come in on rest days. And if you don't comply, expect to be overlooked for promotion, regarded as not committed to the organisation, and made less secure in your job.
Interviewees feel that work has become their life. They find it difficult to foresee a change to their hours regimes believing the long hours culture is so strong that the prospect of individuals having an impact seems remote.
The research concluded that Australians need a regulated standard for hours and the capacity to enforce that collectively if working hours are to be reigned in.
Will the sky fall in if hours are cut?
ACIRRT at the University of Sydney are conducting some research that may also assist the claim. They are on the lookout for workplaces where hours have been reduced. They will be investigating effects on profit and productivity where hours have been cut.
Please contact ACIRRT if you are involved with a workplace where hours have been reduced.
Ring Brigid Van Wanrooy, or Justine Evesson at ACIRRT on 02 9351 5625 before October.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005