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Call me maybe (not): working overtime and a right to disconnect in Australia

Working conditions Overtime Quality of work life Industrial relations Labour regulation Australia

Each year, the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute conducts a survey of Australian working hours, as part of the annual Go Home on Time Day (GHOTD) initiative. Findings from the survey regarding the maldistribution of working hours and the scale of unpaid overtime are examined in a companion report – Theft by any other name. This year, the survey also included a section exploring how a right to disconnect might be implemented in Australia, to further help preserve the boundary between work and personal time for workers.

Working beyond scheduled hours has long been a problem for Australian workers. The nature and scale of overtime has more recently been shaped by the rise in flexible working arrangements and the integration of information and communication technology at work. Checking emails on the weekend, taking multiple-time-zone calls out of hours, and teleconferencing from the dining table have all become familiar experiences amongst workers. This both enabled working from home conditions during the pandemic for a large portion of workers, and accelerated patterns of overtime through the blurring of lines between work and home life.

The survey results presented in this report show that overtime is a prevalent and systemic issue in Australia, primarily driven by working conditions within the control of employers.

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