Theft By Any Other Name: Go Home On Time Day 2022

Unsatisfactory Working Hours and Unpaid Overtime
by Eliza Littleton and Lily Raynes

This year marks the fourteenth 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.

Last year’s report focused on working conditions during the pandemic. Since the re-opening of the global economy after pandemic era lockdowns, Australia’s economy and labour market face both new and old challenges. While the unemployment rate is at historic lows, inflation has accelerated, interest rates are rising, and real wages continue to decline. The tighter labour market conditions, combined with strong productivity growth should theoretically place workers in a position to shop around for well-paid secure work. Accordingly, we should be witnessing improvements in working conditions and wages at least keeping up with prices. But this is not what we observe, this myth that a tight labour market will automatically empower workers hides the many diverse realities of working lives in Australia.

While the labour force participation rate is high, we continue to see growth in non-standard low security employment like labour hire, casual, rolling fixed term, and gig work. While the ‘strong’ labour market conditions may benefit some workers, they are not improving conditions for all, particularly persistently disadvantaged workers like young people, women, first nations workers, and people with disability. Meanwhile, financial dependency on employment remains high as disruptions to global and domestic supply chains cause price hikes for critical products and real wages continue to fall behind, undermining the purchasing power of Australians. This year’s GHOTD focuses on issues Australian workers are experiencing in this economic context.

Full report