Source: The Australian, Tuesday March 7, 1995, p.1


Longer hours and less leisure: we're a nation of workaholics

By social affairs correspondent TOM DUSEVIC 
 
   AUSTRALIA is becoming a 
nation of workaholics, with a 
record one in five people now 
working 49 hours or more each 
week. 
 
   In defiance of the move to a 
shorter working week in 
industrial awards and the false 
promise of greater leisure time, 
the current generation is working 
harder than ever before. 
 
   The labour market dynamic of 
the 1990s is producing two 
distinct classes: the work rich 
and the work poor. 
 
   Academic research suggests the 
economy is generating more 
demanding professional and 
managerial jobs, employers have 
the upper hand 
in enterprise bargaining and, 
worried about job security, 
workers (particularly men) may 
be trying to impress their bosses 
by working longer hours. 
 
   Anecdotally it seems that for 
many, a 10-hour day, unpaid 
overtime, taking work home, and 
going to the office at the 
weekend is increasingly 
becoming a fact of life. 
 
   While 20 per cent of workers 
are working very long hours, just 
as many, if not more, are under- 
utilised - the 800,000 
unemployed, 560,000 part- 
timers who want to work more 
hours and perhaps 150,000 
hidden jobless who have 
prematurely retired or given up 
the job hunt. Figures obtained by 
The Australian from the 
Australian Bureau of Statistics 
show that by the end of 1994, 
1.67 million people or-20.4 
per cent of those with 
jobs-were working 49 hours or 
more each week.  
 
   Split by sex, 29 per cent of 
working males and 9 per cent of 
working females spent 49 or 
more hours on the job in 
December, reflecting the 
dominance of men in high- 
paying jobs and the high 
proportion 'of women in part- 
time work 
 
   Four out of five people 
working these long hours are 
men. 
 
   Smoothing out seasonal 
variations, monthly average figures 
for 1994 show that 26.5 per cent 
of working men and 8.1 per cent 
of working women were working 
long hours. 
 
   Since the late 1970s the 
number of men working 49 hours 
or more a week has almost 
doubled, while (from a lower 
base) the number of women in 
this category has tripled. 
 
   During the past 15 years, hours 
stipulated in awards have come 
down, but paid overtime hours 
per employee have remained 
relatively stable at 1.2 hours. 
People are working longer hours 
and not being paid for overtime. 
 
Continued-Page 2

A nation of workaholics

From Page 1 
 
   The deputy director of the National Institute of 
Labour Studies, Associate Professor Mark Wooden, 
attributes the growth in the number of people working 
long hours to three things. 
 
   He says structural change is facilitating fob growth 
in occupations where long hours are the norm. The 
past decade has seen a big rise in managerial and 
professional employment, where 50, 60, even 70- 
hour weeks are not uncommon. 
 
   Professor Wooden says enterprise bargaining has 
seen a swing in bargaining power to employers, with 
companies working their employees harder and 
smarter to be more competitive as they emerged from 
the recession. Finally, given that management has 
gained the upper hand, he says workers might be more 
insecure about their jobs and are working unpaid 
overtime.


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