2019 marks the eleventh annual Go Home on Time Day (GHOTD), an initiative of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute that shines a spotlight on overwork among Australians, including excessive overtime that is often unpaid.

Over many years, the Centre for Future Work and the Australia Institute have commissioned regular annual opinion polls to investigate overwork, unpaid overtime, and other instances of “time theft” in Australia. This year’s poll of 1,464 Australians was conducted between 23 and 30 July, with a sample that was nationally representative according to gender, age and state or territory.

Of the 1,464 respondents, 884 (or 60 percent) were currently in paid work. That subsample was then asked several questions regarding their hours of work, whether they wanted more work or less, and whether they worked unpaid overtime in their jobs.

This report summarises the results of that polling, and places it in the context of national labour force trends.

Key findings:

  • There is growing evidence of a sharp polarisation in Australian employment patterns, between those with full-time, relatively secure jobs, and a growing portion working part-time, casual, temporary, or insecure positions.
  • In the survey, 59 percent were employed in permanent full-time jobs, while 41 percent were employed as part-time, casual or self-employed workers. In other words, over two in five of the employed people in our sample experienced one or more degrees of precarity or insecurity in their jobs. This is broadly consistent with the reported incidence of precarity in the overall labour market.
  • In the survey, 21 percent of full-time workers said they would prefer to work fewer hours, and 31 percent said they wanted more. 48 percent said their hours were about right.
  • By contrast, those in part-time or casual positions work fewer and more uncertain hours, and many would prefer to work more – 48 percent of parttime workers and 64 percent of casual workers. This highlights the problems of underemployment and inadequate incomes experienced by the growing proportion of Australian workers in insecure jobs. Only 9 percent of part-time employees and 4 percent of casuals wanted fewer paid hours.
  • At the same time as many Australian workers report they would prefer more hours of paid work, unpaid overtime is a frequent occurrence: including coming in early, leaving late, working at home or on weekends, and working through regular breaks and lunch hours. Across all forms of employment, our respondents reported working an average of 4.6 hours of unpaid labour per week.
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