Short Changed

Unsatisfactory working hours and unpaid overtime.
by Fiona Macdonald

This year marks the fifteenth annual Go Home on Time Day (GHOTD), an initiative of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute that shines a spotlight on the maldistribution of working hours and the scale of unpaid overtime worked by Australians.

Following the disruptions of the COVID pandemic and historic falls in real wages over recent years, 2023’s stronger labour market conditions should benefit many workers. Wages have risen, labour force participation is relatively high and unemployment is low. With the introduction of the Government’s 2022 industrial relations reforms, workers are in a better position to bargain, as shown in recent bargaining outcomes and improving wages growth. However, wages are not keeping up with prices, inflation is high and, for many workers, conditions of work are far from satisfactory.

As this year’s GHOTD report shows, significant problems of overwork and underemployment co-exist, affecting many workers across all industries, occupations and age groups. Underemployment particularly affects workers in casual, temporary and other forms of insecure work, and it particularly affects workers in lower-paid roles. Women, younger workers, older workers and services workers are over-represented among those affected. At the same time long hours and overwork remain a problem, especially for full-time workers.

Full report