How your boss is ripping you off by $11k

Aussies are being dudded out of thousands per year and working on average seven weeks worth of unpaid overtime per year, according to fresh data.

The research by the Australia Institute found the average worker was losing more than $11,000 per year, or $425 a fortnight, by doing work beyond what they were paid for.

On average, workers are doing 5.4 hours per week of unpaid overtime, with full time workers doing even more at 6.2 hours per week.

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Younger workers – those between 18 and 29 – performed the most unpaid overtime at 7.4 hours per week respectively.

The report found the 281 hours a year, or seven standard 38-hour weeks, of unpaid overtime was costing the workforce $130bn of lost income each year.

The left-wing think tank surveyed a sample of 1640 Australians, asking them about their working habits in order to analyse time theft.

Policy Director, Industrial and Social at the Centre for Future Work, Fiona Macdonald said time theft had blown out by 57 hours per worker since 2022, returning to near pandemic-era levels.

Aussies are working seven weeks of unpaid overtime per year.
Aussies are working seven weeks of unpaid overtime per year.

“This dispels simplistic arguments that workers have the upper hand on employers because of recent industrial relations reforms,” she said.

“In fact, we’ve seen workers agree to more hours due to the cost of living crunch.

“Perversely, this has resulted in employees giving their bosses a free kick because many of those hours end up being unpaid.”

According to the survey, almost half of all workers (46 per cent) are unsatisfied with their working hours.

More than one in 10 workers (11 per cent) would prefer fewer paid hours, 54 per cent indicated their hours were about right, while one in three (35 per cent) wanted more paid hours.

But there is an increasing polarisation between working hours in the labour market.

Many workers in casual positions reported wanting more hours, while some workers in full time gigs wanted fewer hours.

Young workers (18-29) were more likely to say they wanted additional paid hours.

Unpaid overtime is costing the workforce $130bn of lost income each year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nicholas Eagar
Unpaid overtime is costing the workforce $130bn of lost income each year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nicholas Eagar

“As young people on average earn less than older workers, they in particular are likely struggling to cover the rising cost of living,” the report said.

“The desire for more hours of work declines successively with age, but then increases for people aged 60 and over – with one in four older workers (25 per cent) reporting a desire for more hours.”

Workers wages and employment rights have been in the spotlight as the government battles to secure support for its second tranche of industrial relations reform.

Labor insists the Closing Loopholes Bill will crack down on labour hire, introducing minimum pay and conditions for gig economy workers, an enhanced pathway to permanency for casual workers, and increase penalties for wage underpayments;

But employer groups and the opposition have lashed the reforms and have called for them to be scrapped.

The Greens are locked in negotiations with the government to secure their votes but have repeatedly said a sticking point would be introducing a legislated “right to disconnect”.

The right to ignore calls and emails from your boss after working hours was endorsed by the ALP National Conference back in August.

It comes after a landmark report by a Senate inquiry on work and care recommended legislating an enforceable right to disconnect under the National Employment Standards.

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