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Australians Give Up $110 Billion To Their Employers In Unpaid Overtime Every Year

Photo: Shutterstock

Australians are hard workers. But when should you draw the line?

According to a new report by The Australia Institute, Australian workers donate almost $110 billion in unpaid overtime every year – that’s $2.1 billion a week.

The Walking The Tightrope report found that on average full-time workers are working six hours unpaid overtime each week and part-timers are working three hours. This works out to be $9,471 in unpaid overtime to their employers each year.

In fact, this lack of work/life balance has worsened for 42% of workers over the past five years.

The main contributors to this deterioration are reported as longer working hours, job insecurity, restrictions in changing jobs, moving to another job and the lack of flexibility of management.

If these hours were added up it would shows that these unpaid hours represent approximately 14.7% of total hours worked. If these hours were allocated to and paid to Australians looking for work the unemployment rate could be zero rather than 6.2%.

These long, extended hours at work not only impact the unemployment rate but also have an effect on the economy, to the tune of $14.81 billion a year according to Medibank.

Safe Work Australia Chair, Ann Sherry AO said these extra hours create increasing concern for mental health in the workplace.

“The personal impact of mental stress on workers is a serious and detrimental issue for workers, their families and also employers,” said Sherry.

“The loss of productivity and absence of workers is costing Australian businesses more than $10 billion per year,” she said.

In a Safe Work Australia report the highest rates of mental stress claims were found to be workers with high levels of responsibility for the well being and safety of others or workers at risk in dangerous situations, including train drivers and assistants, police officers, prison officers, ambulance officers and paramedics.

In comparison to other countries in the OECD, Australia ranked ninth overall in 2013 for work/life balance with an average working week for full-time employees of 42.8 hours.

This was effected by the fact that the Australian Bureau of Statistics defines a full-time employee as someone who works 35 hours a week or more, compared to the OECD’s definition of a full-time employee as someone who works 30 hours or more a week.

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