An unhealthy obsession: The impact of work hours and workplace culture on Australia’s health

This 2012 report from the Australia Institute examines the health effects of Australia’s long hours work culture. The authors state:

Australians work some of the longest hours in the developed world – substantially longer than their counterparts in Denmark, The Netherlands and Norway. For many Australians though, work stress is related not to the number of hours worked, but a mismatch between the workers’ desired and actual hours of work, and the inflexibility of these arrangements. This is true for workers across the earning spectrum.A well-functioning labour market would be expected to produce a closer match between the hours worked and workers’ desired hours. But many Australian workers indicate their difficulty in negotiating more flexible, predictable or suitable hours with their employers.It is clear that relieving the impact on individuals, families and communities of inflexible hours of work starts with communication – not only do Australians work long hours, but around one in five Australians also work unpredictable hours, with around 2.2 million Australians reporting that they have little or no idea what time they will finish work that day.Furthermore, a large number of Australians report that they do not feel secure about their work. That is, around 20 per cent of the workforce, more than two million people, feel uncertain about the security of their tenure, the security of their work hours, or both.'(2012:1)

The study found that

‘marked gender differences in the patterns of work with women, on average, performing substantially fewer hours of paid work than men. Overall, 46 per cent of female respondents reported working less than 30 hours per week, compared with 24 per cent of men. Conversely, just over three quarters of men and just over half of female respondents reported working 30 or more hours per week.

The distinction is perhaps most stark when considering those respondents working more than 40 hours per week: just over half of male respondents (51 per cent) reported working 40 or more hours per week, more than twice the proportion of women working those hours.’ (2012:9)

For more detail see the report  by Richard Denniss and David Baker An unhealthy obsession? The impact of work hours and workplace culture on Australia’s health, Institute Paper No. 11 November 2012  Also see Something for nothing:Unpaid overtime in Australia



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