Australian Employers Engage In Unpaid Overtime


Despite record-low unemployment, employers in Australia extract over 280 hours of unpaid work annually from employees, resulting in an average loss of A$11,055 (US$7,244.84) annually.

Specifically, employees reported an average of 5.4 hours of unpaid work per week, with full-time employees contributing 6.2 hours and casual or part-time employees logging four hours weekly. Employees aged 18 and 29 were most affected, dedicating 7.4 hours per week to unpaid overtime. This “time theft” accumulates to 281 hours annually, equivalent to seven standard 38-hour weeks worked without compensation, causing employees in Australia to collectively lose A$131 billion (US$85.8 billion) each year.

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The Australia Institute’s Short Changed survey showed that 61% out of the 1,640 people that were polled are employed. Employees were also dissatisfied with their compensated work hours, according to the report. Nearly half (46%) reported dissatisfaction, with 35% wanting additional hours, rising to 54% among those under 30. Furthermore, half of casual employees (49%) and two out of every five part-timers (40%) want more paid hours, while 11% desire less.

“This survey demonstrates just how uneven the labor market is,” said Dr Fiona Macdonald, Policy Director, Industrial and Social at the Centre for Future Work. She emphasized the importance of enhanced employee protection, citing the Closing Loopholes Act currently before parliament as a key step toward improving Australian labor market results.

She also stated that the record-low unemployment rate should have enhanced employee satisfaction with working hours and pay, but instead, unpaid overtime has grown by 57 hours per employee since 2022, reverting to approaching pandemic-era levels.

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