If you’re reading this consider yourself lucky. You’ve managed to find time out of a stressful work day to squeeze in a moment of media consumption despite a new study finding we’re all working way too hard and far too much.

Someone who spends too much time in the office. Picture: Archives

The Australian Institute survey Long time, no see will no doubt provoke a round of handwringing from social researchers using it as proof that Australia is slave to a brutal corporate beast that eats up families and destroys “community”.  This will be accompanied by calls to move toward a more European model of work, replete with biweekly cheese fairs in our new found tight knit villages.

The glaring problems with this survey and others like it are not the results, but the fact that there’s no recognition of the gap between what people say they want, what they actually want and what they’re willing to do about it.

Taken at face value the survey has some pretty startling findings:

Actual working hours match preferred working hours for just one in five workers (21 per cent). Half of all workers (50 per cent), and 81 per cent of those working more than 40 hours a week, would like to work fewer hours than they worked in the past week. A further 29 per cent of workers would like to work additional hours, including the majority of those working part time (60 per cent).

It goes on to make the mass diagnosis of time poverty upon our lives:

Time poverty refers to not having enough time to do all the things you want or need to do. Not everyone faces the same time commitments or has the same access to free time. Like a shortage of income, lack of free time may be another aspect of disadvantage in societies.

To reverse the analogy of time and money: does this mean that if I don’t have the money to buy all the things I want and need I’m suffering from financial poverty? Because if that’s the case I wasn’t aware that my inability to recreate a boyhood fantasy of owning a Delorean and a hover board was classified as poverty.

In casually conflating “want and need” to define time poverty, there’s a deceptive assumption that the hours we want to work are equal to those we actually need to work to support the lives we’ve become accustomed to. Furthermore, there’s little evidence that those working the hardest are looking to change.

The survey finds that we’re working on average 35.6 hours a week (that’s 7.12 hours a day) with a median working week of 40 hours, with men working about seven hours more a week than women. Those who work more than 40 hours a week overwhelmingly want to work less (81 per cent), and those who worked less than 35 hours want to work more (60 per cent). So part time workers want to work more and those who work a lot want to work less.

Those who expressed the greatest dissatisfaction between the hours they are working and those they want to are male, manager professionals, between the ages of 35-54 who earn over $80,000 - unsurprisingly this group also works the longest hours. So men who work the most and earn the most feel that they are working too hard.

But this is also the group with the greatest earning power, and there’s no evidence that they’re turning down that potential. The survey points out that people were asked to take “into account the effect on their income” when nominating preferred working hours, but doesn’t ask how much effect on their income.

The kinds of jobs the most dissatisfied people are in – skilled and educated manager professionals – generally aren’t the type that you can just cash in hours for labour lost: big job, big hours, big pay. Perhaps the better question to ask would’ve been are you willing to take a demotion to work less hours. Is it really surprising that those who are the most qualified and highest paid feel that they’re working too hard?

This is more an exercise in fantasy than it is a monumental shift in our attitude towards work and life. The majority of those who work between 35 and 40 hours who are unhappy currently say they’d happily work 8-16 hours less a week, putting them at part time hours. But saying you’d go part time and affording it (if it is even available) are two very different things.

The Institute’s paper goes on to nominate the ingenious solution of taking all those unhappy workers’ hours and handing them over to those people that want more work:

“If all 11.3 million employed people were able to work their preferred hours, there would be 28.7 million fewer hours worked each week (using the average reduction of 2.54 hours). If employers sought to employers sought to employ others to make up those lost hours, they would be looking for 886,000 new workers, given an average working week of 32.4 hours.”

So when BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers announces he’ll be taking every second Friday off we’ll have Claire from accounts willing to fill in because she needs the extra hours. This is the “lump of labour” fallacy that the French fell for with the legislated 35 hour work week.

Unfortunately the institute paper goes on to advocate the legislated French 35 hour week, pointing to falling unemployment and increased GDP after the legislative change by the Socialist Party Prime Minister Jospin in 2000. It fails to mention that this was at the expense of tens of billions of Euro to the Government, unemployment then steadily grew in France and that the French Government has now (almost) scrapped the law. And while we’re being all “net happiness” about it, one might also point out that France has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world, and it’s something the 35 hour week didn’t help.

It’s worth considering whether we work too much and what it’s doing to our lives, especially to vulnerable people like carers. But it also helps if we can discern time poverty from something as reliable as the Australian work ethic – whingeing.

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    • Biteme says:

      05:38am | 11/11/10

      Of course Australians work too long, it’s statistically proven. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/lab_hou_wor-labor-hours-worked
      Australia has become a basket case of overworked people, who cannot afford to buy a home, being ripped off by banks, being offered overpriced groceries by a supermarket duopoly, and lead by a toothless incompetent government. I really don’t understand why the boats keep coming.

    • Why Not? says:

      11:11am | 11/11/10

      Because that’s exactly where the government keeps shovelling the money from the hard working Australians - into the hands of the people walking off the boats!! Why wouldn’t they keep coming?

    • Moses Hickory says:

      01:19pm | 11/11/10

      If you don’t like the hours you work then do something about it. The last thing we need is the government imposing more demands on small business. The problem we have in Australia is that people aren’t willing to take ownership of their own lives. It’s always someone else’s fault (Mum, Dad, Government, Boss). Take a teaspoon of cement and harden up. Australia has gone from a country of little aussie battlers to a country of little aussie whingers.

    • murray says:

      06:59am | 11/11/10

      Just whinging more.

    • Macca says:

      07:02am | 11/11/10

      Who on earth works 40 hours a week. I don’t know any full time employee who works 40 hours a week. Maybe the odd school teacher, but even they have expectations of discretionary effort, their 9 - 3 is very quickly becoming 8 - 5, in line with what most professional staff are already doing, and more.

      I think the key is flexibility, I’m happy to work 7 - 530 most days, as long as I can occasionally leave at 430 to head to the beach on a really hot day or duck off at 3 on the odd Friday before a long weekend to beat the traffic up the F3.

      Australians don’t work too hard.

    • Twinstar says:

      07:20am | 11/11/10

      @Macca - every full-time employee where I work dies a 40-hour week but, as you say, it’s about flexibility. I’m able to tweak the hours so I can fit my personal life in. I also don’t think I would have been able to buy my own home without it.

    • Bruce says:

      08:30am | 11/11/10

      Macca: Your fisching ! If not you need to get out more. Many people work at 50 hours per week at least, and usually with no overtime, just to keep their job.

    • Natalie says:

      08:47am | 11/11/10

      I don’t know anyone who is working less then 45 hours a week. You are expected to have bum on chair by 7.45am and said bum is not to be off until 6pm - by the time you factor 45 mins to an hour travel time to home - you are only lucky to get enough time to cook dinner, shower and go to bed - ready to do it all again. This is the reality in most places their is no opportunity for flexibility. It leads to very frustrated and tired people.

    • Kevin says:

      09:32am | 11/11/10

      @Macca So the first thing you did when you got into work was to write the above post.  People shouldn’t confuse work with attendance.  And BTW most teachers I know did all the reading and marking of assignments and lesson preparation at home.

    • Jacksta says:

      09:44am | 11/11/10

      God dam I work from 7.30am to 4.00pm five days per week, then I do 6.00pm to 10.00pm Tuesday and Thursday nights and again from 11.00am to 5.00pm on a Saturday just so I can afford to keep my house and make the repayments that go with it.

      As for flexibility in our workplace, forget it, we get timed when we go to lunch and even when you visit the loo, a total JOKE!!!!!!!!

    • Miner says:

      10:56am | 11/11/10

      Try the mines mate. We work 40 hours per week averaged on an annual basis. 12 hour shifts everyday 6am to 6pm or night shifts 6pm to 6am. We could be rostered on for 9 days straight or 2-4 weeks straight. Most of us don’t get to be with our families or get to enjoy the lifestyle you have in the cities.

      You people working in the cities are soft. So quit whinging. Eat a bag of cement and harden up.

    • rufus says:

      11:28am | 11/11/10

      Jacksta 9:44am - so your working hours obviously include time for you to blog. In fact, The Punch couldn’t exist without all of us busy, overworked people.

    • Macca says:

      11:48am | 11/11/10

      Sorry, it appears there is some confusion around my post. When I said I don’t know anyone who works 40 hours, that was to say that everyone does far more than that, just to get through their normal work. Anything less than 45 is an oddity, and if you are working for a large corporate in a major city, chances are you are closer to 60 hours a week than 40.

      That was my point, if the average Australian is only working 40 hours, then we don’t work too hard; Its the percentage of people who are doing 50% more than that who are.

    • Macca says:

      11:58am | 11/11/10

      @Bruce, agreed, 50 hours a week is not uncommon at all. The statistics in the story indicated 40 was average. My point is simply that if 40 is average, than the average Australian is no overworked.

      @Natalie, unfortunately, you story is not uncommon either, and to have a workplace that offers flexibility is a real lifesaver.

      @Kevin, yes, many teachers put in a huge discretionary effort above the hours they are at School, as do many professionals who work from home in the evening and weekends. I’ll ignore the irony regarding presenteeism

      @Jacksta, if you can’t afford your mortgage, sell your house or get a higher paying job. I have no sympathy for people who get themselves into debt based on a lifestyle they can’t afford.

      @Miner, I work on a site (not in a city) that does 12 hour shifts and I understand the sacrifices shitworkers are required to make. However you also receive overtime, ridiculous allowances and most are paid double the award (and average) wage. Everyone is required to make sacrifices in their work, but I’m guessing if you’ve been rostered on for 2 weeks, you’ll have a nice few weeks break until your next pattern, without taking annual leave. You’ve got it better than you think

    • ABC says:

      12:15pm | 11/11/10

      Oh c’mon.  What sort of half arsed place do you work at!  I work on average 50 or more hours a week.  (I’m a senior manager), and given the mining related industry I work in, most of my staff put in at least 40.

    • Mining boss (cleaner) says:

      12:23pm | 11/11/10

      hey Miner, you boofheads get paid a sinful amount to work in the mines and thats the only reason you do it. Unskilled labourers making a killing based on the fact that you have to live in a crap hole and work long hours. So get off the high horse buddy and pull your head in, we all see through you.

    • Who says:

      12:32pm | 11/11/10


      I have worked in a wide variety of jobs including mining (both fifo and living in a mining town) and I can honestly say that mining was far from the most demanding of these, physically or emotionally.  In fact I found living in a mining town in northern Australia one of the most enjoyable times in my life and this was closely followed by the fifo work.  On top of that I probably spent more time with my family then as well due to extended breaks that are now much rarer (office work).  If your roster effects you so much I would recommend a change in carer.

    • shane says:

      07:03am | 11/11/10

      Here Here. Every word

    • rufus says:

      11:26am | 11/11/10

      Where? Where?

    • Henny Penny says:

      12:17pm | 11/11/10

      I think you mean HEAR HEAR! *rolls eyes* You are agreeing, not calling the person over to you.

    • incervisiaveritas says:

      07:05am | 11/11/10

      Many years ago, when questioned about his “life ambitions”, a colleague of mine said that “he wanted to earn enough money to live in a manner to which he would like to become accustomed”

      I feel that he summed up the balance between work and leisure perfectly.

    • Biteme says:

      08:04am | 11/11/10

      May I just add this too please. We are working harder and longer than ever, but what you don’t probably realise is only 1 and 1/2 days of weekly pay is yours. Don’t believe me?
      Whats your tax rate? Then take out 10% GST you pay on everything you buy, Professional Registrations, Stamp Duties, Road Tolls, Customs Tariff on anything you buy that is imported, Professional Fees, Parking Fees, Ambulance Levy, Fire Levy, Parks and Wildlife Levy, Council Rates, Water Rates, Government Fees on your bank account, Permits Required, Fines, Car Registration, 55% Tax on all the fuel you buy, Tax on Alcohol, Tax on Smoking, Medicare Levy, Luxury Tax, Airport Tax, and there are more. Theres about 3 days gone working for the Government. Now the next person in line to rip you off is the bank. Don’t include the actual payment that comes off your mortgage balance, just now add up all the interest, fees and charges the banks takes from your salary.
      And what do you have left after all that? If you have 2 days worth of salary to spend on food, and living you’re lucky. So keep breaking your b#lls for them, they will love you for it.

    • Matt says:

      10:28am | 11/11/10

      Of my $65k salary I get $35 a week pocket money. If only I could keep one day’s worth of work! XD

      But my wife is studying and I have a kid, so I guess that’s fair enough.

    • Stephen Fitzpatrick says:

      10:38am | 11/11/10

      Yes I agree, we should be alowed to walk around beautiful parks and use roads and water and sewerage for free, we shouldn’t have to pay for Police and an Army to keep us safe, or a fire service to save our house. Speaking of our houses, banks should just give us all half a million dollars interest free so we can buy our house, and when we sell it a decade later for two million, they should be grateful to get their half a mil back!

    • Adrian says:

      10:56am | 11/11/10

      So you don’t drive on roads, drink water or get sick? That is part of the cost of living mate so if you’re expecting the government to raise the money themselves and foot your bill then I’ve got bad news for you coz there’s not a country in the world that does that.

      Working too much or whinging more? I vote the latter.

    • Clare says:

      11:06am | 11/11/10

      Without taxes Biteme, there would be no country for you to earn money in. We would live in a derelict slum, full of disease, poverty and poor infrastructure. These Levy’s you speak of, in such a distasteful tone, are doing much more for your happiness than the money in your pocket.

    • Geoff says:

      01:35pm | 11/11/10

      On the same note Stephen Adrian and Clare. I doubt biteme uses Indonesian schools (500M) or feels a need to fix Indonesia’s problems. Or pay for Builders Early Retirement. Or electrocute apprentices. Or pay for assylum seekers legal fees.  Yet he would have more of his pay if these were not done and still the same level of services.
      The point I’m getting at is that the government needs to stop the increases in fees when it spends like a drunken sailor, looks like a hung over sailor (bligh) and doesn’t want to cut its own spending.

    • Hairy Potter says:

      07:09pm | 11/11/10

      I’m working fewer hours every year, however, I get paid more each year because I work smarter with more experience. I would guess you are very incompetent at your job and you feel the need to work more hours to justify your existence. Get back to giving people what they need (whatever your role may be) and your job will become easier.

    • Elphaba - 2 more sleeps til the Four Horsemen \m/ says:

      08:11am | 11/11/10

      Whinging more.  I work about 50 (40 for my day job, 8-10 for my friend’s website), and I have plenty of time to socialise, date…. see Metallica in concert.  If you’re working too much, get a different job or make a lifestyle change.

    • DH says:

      08:18am | 11/11/10

      Hover boards are definitely the dream. I don’t think enough focus is given to making them happen.

    • Sickofbeingaboss says:

      08:20am | 11/11/10

      I am disgusted by this “survey” - I listened to some of the “employees” who were surveyed and was ashamed that they were even living and breathing the same airspace as me. Did the Australia Institute select the responses they were looking for?

      What is it about Australians that we have to believe the hype perpetuated by our tourism boards: the land of milk and honey, where everyone lolls about on the beach all day, never a care, sunbronzed, trim, sporty, friendly, lots of friends etc etc ad nauseum? Chances are, those “surveyees” are the very ones who look over the advertising fence and are jealous of the image we have successfully sold to the rest of the world.

      These same people will also complain of never getting ahead, the cost of groceries and how rich their boss is. As an employer, I am offended and embarassed by this “report” by the Australia Institute: I do not “steal” hours from my employees. I do however, expect them to work their award hours. If you are late back from your shopping spree lunch, then make up for it at the other end of the day. It is not my fault you can’t get yourself back to work on time. This “stealing” of hours does not happen: and I doubt very much that the claims of an average 60-80 worked hours EVERY week are accurate.

      Did the Australia Institute “survey” any employers?

    • AdamC says:

      08:31am | 11/11/10

      I don’t think Australians work too hard as a rule. This article was excellent and distilled the issue perfectly. People say they want to work less - are they prepared to earn less? This whole work/life ‘debate’ is almost immature in the way it seems to think people can ‘have it all’.

    • Sickofbeingaboss says:

      09:04am | 11/11/10

      Hear! Hear! Well said - your point about working less = paid less is very pertinent. Most of those who were “surveyed” probably can’t work that one out.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      08:33am | 11/11/10

      Claire from accounts could probably do a better job than Marius Kloppers…...

    • Sean says:

      10:43am | 11/11/10

      Good luck with that, he seems to be doing just fine at his job. If I could pay Marius Kloppers what Claire in accounts gets, and maybe employ 200 more of him to lead every team in the company, I reckon I’d have the best damn business around

    • Rev says:

      12:08pm | 11/11/10

      Shane from Melbourne = Ken Henry from Canberra.

    • Duff says:

      09:04am | 11/11/10

      Leo, I could be wrong, but I think you’ll change your tune when you have kids.  Probably the saddest thing is to get up in the morning, rush off to work, leaving your beaming kids in your wake, and then return home only to find that they’ve already gone to bed or are just about to.  You feel like your missing out on your life.  And you ask: for what?  Your family is only young once and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.  Many, many senior or retired execs have said to me: slow down.  At the end of your life your job and career matter nothing to you.  Not a tuppence.  It’s all about your family and loved ones.

    • Matt says:

      10:31am | 11/11/10

      Aye, my son is the only reason I care about getting home early. If it was just to watch TV I’d add another 3 hours work on each day and make myself a lot more money.

    • Kate says:

      09:21am | 11/11/10

      I think people are less engaged in a community outside of work than they used to be and have less “extra curricular activities”

      Whilst I do know that some people do find it difficult to work shorter hours: there’s the other side of the scenario that people have less to do outside of work.

      I mean I work 40hour week max, if work pressures increase i will stay back to handle the workload of course! Then when things chill out i happily work a 35 hour week and enjoy the extra time away with coffee with friends, longer walks, cooking sessions, movies, family, volunteering etc etc etc!

      I think some people’s focus has shifted and it’s more about the consumables and the self than the world out there beyond.

      (Note: I am aware it also depends on the individual job description and workplace: which in itself can harbour long hour pressures. Careful choices in what position you take to work in is crucial. Life is meant to be lived not grumbled about!)

    • Sarah says:

      09:33am | 11/11/10

      “men working about seven hours more a week than women.”

      —Can this be linked to one of the many stories about how men get paid slgihtly more than women? There might just be something in this…

    • Matt says:

      10:32am | 11/11/10

      People who write those articles don’t like to look at both sides of the argument Sarah smile

      But yes, I’m quite certain there is something in this!

    • Peter says:

      09:39am | 11/11/10

      In my experience, no matter how quiet a person is a work, they are always busy! These survey’s aren’t worth the paper they are written on.. Im busy right now on the net!

      In this day and age, it’s all about being present at work and not productive. The more you appear to be working (as opposed to doing your work and going home) the more success you’ll be. Rather sad really.

    • madz says:

      09:48am | 11/11/10

      Love how the news article features a picture of David Brent, Best example ever.

    • Jeff Hammond says:

      10:05am | 11/11/10

      The real culprit are the high taxes you are forced to pay to cover welfare freeloaders and politicians mismanagement.
      Monday to Thursday you work for the taxman and it’s only Friday’s earnings you keep for yourself.
      Do your sums on income tax and the multitude of other taxes charges, licence fees, levies etc like GST and you will find the true rate of tax is 90%

    • Geoff says:

      10:14am | 11/11/10

      Haha, Im here at work for 40 hours but dont work 40 hours. Seriously, i definately cannot say I am over worked, just simply dont like working and my job is boring.

    • Steve says:

      10:24am | 11/11/10

      Mostly just whinging. It cracks me up when people say they work 60 hours per week. 60 hours, assuming 5-day week, is starting at 7am and finishing 7pm without having any break for lunch.

      I think a lot of people either can’t count, or include travel to and from work as “working” time.

      And any survey that asks “are you working too hard?” is obviously going to get this sort of response. As a question, it’s right up there with “do you get paid enough?”

    • fairsfair says:

      10:40am | 11/11/10

      Too true. I have once done two successive [about] 60 hour weeks which saw me leaving home at 5:00am - arriving to work at 6 and then leaving in the eventing at 7:00pm arriving home at about 7:45pm. Stopping to get something for dinner maybe, home by 8- 8:30pm. I was like a zombie by the end of it and would probably survived another week of it before becoming a hysterical mess. Same was said by the people around me. I don’t think that there are many people around that actually do that many hours on a regular basis. If there were we wouldn’t have as many functioning people walking amongst us - I could barely put one foot in front of the other by the end of it. My employer then took us all out for dinner to say thanks and gave us all a four day weekend - as an employee only to happy to do that on the odd occasion.

    • Bella says:

      11:12am | 11/11/10

      Steve - I fail to understand how that “cracks you up”. A lot of people do work those hours, I know many people who get to work by 7 and don’t leave until after 7pm. That’s not travel time, thats sitting at the desk, snacking at the desk for lunches, and “what’s a coffee break”? Myself included!

      Some people need, or are prepared, to work whatever hours are needed to get the job done or to keep the job in some cases. Just because you don’t have that work ethic, or don’t need to work those hours, and can’t understand working through lunch and putting in a 12 hour day, doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t. It’s not whinging, its facts. It doesn’t mean its healthy btw, it just is what it is.

    • Dick says:

      10:34am | 11/11/10

      I used to work between 45 and 50 hours per week, paid for 40, so the desire to reduce hours would have had no impact on earnings, as I wasn’t paid for overtime. As others have mentioned, I was missing my kids growing up. Then I had a look at what I was doing, prompted by a management course I attended. The course suggested if you couldn’t get your work done in the allotted hours, either you were inefficient, or your position was under-resourced. Have to work that our between the employer and employee which is which. So I reviewed what I was doing and decided some of it provided no benefit to anyone, and with employers consent, stopped doing those things. I also reviewed how I was doing other things, and implemented some streamlining and automation. I now work my 40 hours per week. Occassionally, if a deadline demands, it goes beyond that, but I can usually get that back at a later time. Time management is tthe key.

    • Trevor says:

      12:22pm | 11/11/10

      Thanks Dick, I think your story hits on one of the key points here. People are less likely to think they are working too many hours if they are actually working productive and meaningful hours.  And conversely, hours would often drop if only the truly productive and meaningful hours were worked.

      Employers have a habit of equating hours worked with productivity.  This might have made sense in the industrial revolution factories where simple equations could be made: one worker makes 10 thingummys per hour, so more hours equals more thingummys produced.  In most modern jobs, though, that kind of thinking just doesn’t hold.

    • Ben says:

      10:43am | 11/11/10

      I like the idea of weekly cheese fairs . . . . . .

    • Rosie says:

      10:45am | 11/11/10

      Working for one’s lively hood should be encouraged. The amount of time they work is their choice!

      Our daughter, single parent because she lost her husband 2 years ago has a high profile job and is paid big money. It is her choice and realizes fully well that with the big pay comes the big responsibility and the long hours, many hours that she could be spending with her 2 children. She is fortunate because she has the grandparents to take care of the children for her to take on the demands of the company she works for.

      Do we worry about the Govt making life easy for any of us? Definitely Not! We get on with our lives the best we can and just happy to live a comfortable happy life and good health!

      When our daughter gets home from work, she then spends quality time with the children because the running of the house etc is left to the grandparents. We find great delight helping out and more so feel very much needed!

    • St. Michael says:

      04:20pm | 11/11/10

      Sorry to disappoint you, Rosie, but quality time’s a myth, and always has been.  Quantity time matters more.  See you again in 20 years and you’ll admit I was right.  Especially if there’s only one parent in the house.  Enjoy the strong relationship you’ll have with your grandkids, because the way your daughter’s going, they won’t have one with her.

    • Steve Smith says:

      10:50am | 11/11/10

      I have enough time to comment… Definitely working too hard.

    • Petal says:

      11:00am | 11/11/10

      I employ over 200 casual staff. Casual because the hours of operation are 24/7 and not predictable. The live concert industry. No one ever works more than they want. Shift by shift. I don’t know anyone who is working unpaid overtime unless they are high paid career goers with whom it is expected to work longer hours for the huge pay they get. You want to work a standard 38hr week or less then get a job which pays you nothing but the minimum wages. I think a world of minimum wage and plenty of family time would wake up a few idealistic fools. It’s called a mortgage (most with 90% financing) 3 cars in one family 4 flat screen TVs numerous mobiles ipods computers and internet in all rooms and of course aircon. If you force a 35hr week more people will have work but no one can earn a decent living. isn’t socialism great or is that communism sorry they both confuse me.

    • Keith says:

      11:02am | 11/11/10

      Australians are soft. Try working in Asia where professionals are expected to worked an average of 10-12 hours each day (even though it’s meant to be 9am-6pm) with no over time paid.

    • Daniel says:

      11:07am | 11/11/10

      We are working too much. its typical for News Ltd staff to just blow this off as whingeing. Australians are one of the most hard working in the western world and there is very little recognition for this. I say bring on the Adam Bandt bill and lets debate all this. Its great to finally see these issues getting a good airing.

    • Marc says:

      11:10am | 11/11/10

      I work 10 - 14 hours per day because the money is worth it. I don’t have the time (or desire) to spend it, which to me is an added bonus of hard work.

      Do I feel as though I am working too much? Sometimes, but it is more ‘guilt’ that I cannot spend more time with my family.

      Am I proud of how hard I work? Yes.

      Would I ‘like’ to work less hours? Yes.

      Do I prefer to work more hours so that I earn more money? Yes.

    • Bitten says:

      11:11am | 11/11/10

      People who really work hard don’t have time to tell you they work hard. Most people are lazy and just resent the fact that they have to work at all.

    • NEFFA says:

      12:15pm | 11/11/10

      the problem is people dont know how to switch off. they may leave the office, but then continue to work on the train on the way home, get home have dinner then keep working. Give it up people.

      At the moment i live with my sister, she works long hours, she then comes home to find me sitting on the lounge relaxing and starts complaining to me about her work like i know these people or really give a toss. Relax! leave work at work, have home as a sanctuary from all that.

    • PatC says:

      01:37pm | 11/11/10

      I recommend you read a book by John Gray called “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”.
      If you ever hope to change “sister” to “partner” you’re going to need it.

    • James says:

      12:29pm | 11/11/10

      Keep working hard people. I’ll just sit at the top, cruise around on my luxury boat and reap the rewards you guys put in. Ah you’ve got to respect the protestant work ethic otherwise I’d have to work.

    • Human says:

      12:32pm | 11/11/10

      pft - i dont care about anyone else. I only care about my own well being. I dont want to work 5 days a week because i have better things to do. Like create my own music, network within music, play lots of video games and smoke lots of bongs, write screenplays, write stories… Creative things, but sadly, they dont make you money, unless you’re a mainstream tool making money for a large entertainment company, like Sony. So, I have to work in the boring IT industry to make some easy money, but its extremely boring, a big waste of time, and I got better things to do with my time. I’m writing this in my lunch break, fck a job.

    • JimKirk says:

      01:31pm | 11/11/10

      As Leo points out, there are a few flaws in the article. Flaws that maybe cannot be easily captured or explained in statistics on how people feel about there work life.  For example, i fit the 35-45, male educated manager, on $80,000+.  However it is not a case of accepting a demotion for less hours and pay.  Invariably the employer still expects the same quantity and quality of work, regarless of how much they pay you - yes, i am being specific to the private sector and not public.  But this is the problem - the expecetation is that employers are demanding more and more from the employee

      It is not a case of working less hours, more so a culture change from employers to integrate work life balance.  The real question here is how does the Australian workplace paradigm alter to integrate a healthy work/life balance and still maintain productivity.

    • St. Michael says:

      04:37pm | 11/11/10

      There’s no such thing as a “work/life balance”, JimKirk.  Or if there is, it’s first cousin to the Tooth Fairy, a set of empty weasel words HR people came up with to try and get around the thorny issue of Gen Y jobseekers not sticking around if an employer decided to mess with them.

      As it is, “work/life balance” by definition implies work has an equal footing with the rest of your life, that you must give equal weight to work and the rest of your entire existence.  The way you actually should be sorting your life is by priorities, and most sane people would conclude that out of all the priorities that occupy their life, work shouldn’t be at the top or equal to the top.

      Sadly, most sane people are also so shit-scared of losing their job and having to find another one they’ll put up with increasing degrees of crap from their employer; it is nothing less than the old ‘frog in boiling water’ argument.  Employers complain about skills shortages and Gen Y’s disdain for company loyalty - that would be because employers mercilessly milked their parents for a good 20-30 years or so and still turned them out the door like a last-placed racehorse to the knackers’ yard without another word.

      I say retain your disdain for your employer.  He obtains a good benefit out of you in that you do work that he can not or does not want to do for himself.  For this he pays you a wage.  That is the limit of the employee/employer relationship.  GK Chesterton said an employee owes his employer nothing except performance - not attitude, not cringing servility, not uppermost consideration in his life.

      And remember always that, for all the strident denials I’m sure I’ll draw from employers of staff, the majority retain a disdain for their employees if not an outright distrust.

    • PatC says:

      01:34pm | 11/11/10

      Interesting to see that no one here has made a link between the point in this survey that men work an average of 7hrs a week more than women and the point raised in an article some months ago that the average annual income for women is less than for men.

    • Antonio says:

      01:40pm | 11/11/10

      Why this push to mandate how people should live their lives?

      “You shouldnt work too many hours”

      “You should have children, and your wife has to breastfeed them otherwise we’ll assume their antisocial criminals”

      “If you make too much money, some should be taken away because its gonna show too much with others”

      Screw the European way of life… Just go home and let people choose the way they want to live. If it was natural you’d think that would be the natural order. But the fact that government has to step in, it tells you its not natural.

    • Happiness starts here says:

      02:08pm | 11/11/10

      Due to health issues I find full time work exhausting. So I made the decision to work part-time, earn enough to live on and enjoy my life. I won’t be enjoying overseas holidays, new cars etc, but I will enjoy the quiet times, the time spent with the grandchildren, walking on the beach etc. At least when I end end up bedridden I’ll have happy memories to look back on, not just long hours spent in the office,

    • Zach J says:

      02:33pm | 11/11/10

      Well done. You took an issue which really asks us to take a moment to think about what life is all about and turned it into a boring statistical dirge. How practical.

    • thekbd says:

      03:23pm | 11/11/10

      I am returning to Australia in the near future after recently resigning from a company in Tokyo, where I really was working far too many hours, when busy about 65. I look at a 40 hour week and think you beauty, looking forward to it, hey I will do 50, no sweat. And Australia has great rates of pay also. Sure you can get a home loan here at 2%, but only in the sticks is it a decent size, and it won’t have insulation. Oz has it a lot better, seriously harden up. P.S. Any good jobs going?

    • Kelly says:

      03:25pm | 11/11/10

      Hooray for me, I only work 35 hours a week!

    • n/a says:

      03:33pm | 11/11/10

      what choice we cant afford our mortgages in which i dont know why keep the rba no one listens waste of money and our bills are sky rocketing and fuel is expensive even though the dollar is high il never understand it and were working to a death age so we have to work more and more even though our wages are low compared in what we spent on prison inmates and criminals like asylum seekers the are breaking the law.

    • John Brown says:

      04:20pm | 11/11/10

      You work all your life and put up with all the gripes, taxes and bank fees. You hardly go out, rarely go on holiday. You finally pay off your house, sell your house. Your kids divide up the money between them, waste it on cars, gambling and holidays (all the things you couldn’t afford), and then you move into a nursing home and die. That was fun wasn’t it.

    • marley says:

      07:07pm | 11/11/10

      Nah, you’ve got it all wrong.  First sentence right.  You work, you pay taxes, you pay bank fees. Check.  Second sentence, nope - I’ve never met any working stiff who couldn’t afford some kind of holiday, even if it was sitting in a tent somewhere.  Third sentence, half right. Pay off the house.  Why sell it - unless you’re buying a top of the line caravan and 4X4?  Fourth sentence - kids take the money? Not till I’m in my coffin.  They were given a roof over their heads, three squares a day, an education, medical care, support at their sports events, help with their homework and maybe a bit of a loan to get them started in life.  They’re on their own once they’re adults.  And there’s no way they’re going to be picking the flesh of my bones till I’m long gone.  I intend to spend every damn dollar I’ve earned or saved before I’m gone, and they’ll get just enough to bury me.  And yes, it’ll be a hell of a ride!

    • Martin says:

      06:44pm | 11/11/10

      I came from a country where the average pay for 25yo is $600 a month working 12-15 hours a day and some companies still having 6 days work policy.
      I feel so lucky to be able to work and live in Australia, I swore I’ll never complain. So far I’ve been able to keep my word! 

      And my attitude seems to make the boss happy too, my pay has increased almost 3-folds since I first joined this wonderful company as a fresh grad 3 years ago!

    • michael says:

      08:04pm | 11/11/10

      I am a CEO and work 110 hours a week or 5500 hours a year . I get $ 27 a an hour after tax so yes we are definately overworked no wonder so many men die of cancer and heart conditions .

    • Gerard says:

      08:49pm | 11/11/10

      “The survey finds that we’re working on average 35.6 hours a week (that’s 7.12 hours a day) with a median working week of 40 hours”

      Is this people who actually have jobs, or the entire population? Because what used to happen was that men would be employed full time while women would stay at home, look after the kids and do the housework. Without making any moral judgement on the relative philosophical merits of feminism, the fact is that the average person now works much longer hours than the average person 50-60 years ago. So now both spouses get up, travel anywhere between 30 minutes-2 hours to work, spend 8-12 hours in their place of employment and travel 30 minutes-2 hours before they get home- and the housework hasn’t even been started yet. Of course, having a far greater household income has forced up the cost of living to the point that this is no longer a lifestyle choice and simply a matter of necessity. No wonder people feel they don’t have time for real life.

    • Alan says:

      07:45am | 12/11/10

      My only complaint is the $80k I pay in tax every year to keep welfare bludgers in smokes and grog. I work 60-70 hrs a week but am going to retire at 52 and spend every cent I’ve ever earnt.

    • Louise says:

      08:25am | 12/11/10

      80k tax? That is insane! It almost deters me from wanting to earn more money. Being an architect though, I don’t think I have to worry about earning and hence paying too much tax. I just scrape by on my measly $32k a year (and that’s after FOUR payrises!)

    • stephen says:

      01:05pm | 14/11/10

      Keep payin yer tax Al ; it’s allowed me ter sit on me arse readin crappy posts like yours.
      (Ever I’m sittin next to a bloke ordering liver on toast wearing a 10 dollar hat i’ll say ‘g’day’.)

    • Jolanda says:

      09:21am | 12/11/10

      I wouldn’t work a 40 hour week even if you paid me.


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