Work and life in a pandemic: an update on hours of work and unpaid overtime under COVID-19

Overtime Long working hours Quality of work life Working hours Occupational health and safety Sector regulation Working conditions Australia
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2020 marks the twelfth annual Go Home on Time Day, 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.

Since 2009, the Centre for Future Work and the Australia Institute have commissioned an annual survey to investigate overwork, unpaid overtime, and other instances of 'time theft' in Australia. This year’s poll of 1601 Australians was conducted between 23 and 27 July, with a sample that was nationally representative according to gender, age and state or territory. Of the 1601 respondents, 945 (or 59%) were currently in paid work.

This year, in addition to our usual survey questions about unpaid hours of work, we paid particular attention to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people’s working patterns. These included the extent to which they were working from home, and whether they were being supported to do so by their employers.

Key findings:

  • Even though total work hours have fallen, and much work has shifted to home, demands for unpaid overtime remain strong
  • 70% of people doing work from home, are doing at least some of it non-work hours
  • 21% of workers indicated that their employers’ expectations of their availability had increased during the COVID-19 crisis
  • 28% of workers said their family and/or caring responsibilities had increased as a result of COVID-19
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