It is time for employers to repay employees the $72 billion in overtime they owe them by al
lowing workers to go home at 5pm tomorrow, 25 November.
In response to findings that Australian workers are “donating” more than their annual leave
entitlement back to their employers in the form of unpaid overtime, The Australian Institute
has nominated 25 November as national “Go Home on Time” day.
A survey by the institute found that each year, Australians work more than two billion hours
of unpaid overtime. Furthermore, international comparisons show that Australians work the
longest hours in the developed world.
“Ultimately, managers and business owners have a responsibility to create an environment
in which employees can work reasonable hours without risking their career, their health or
their relationships,” said the report’s co-author, Josh Fear.
According to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) job security fears have put
pressure on people to work extra hours for nothing, while others have felt they have no choice
because of increased workloads. ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said that the estimated two
billion hours of unpaid overtime each year was astonishing and that workers should receive
payment for any overtime they do.
“Employees are legally entitled to refuse to work overtime for nothing, but the reality is that
many workers believe they will either lose their job or be overlooked for promotion if they
don’t,” said Lawrence.