No, as a matter of fact Australians aren't working longer hours. Over the last few decades the average number of hours worked by employed Australians has actually decreased. Across the 1980s, we were working on average almost 35 hours per week, but over the first decade of the 2000s, the average work week decreased to 33 hours.
Move through to the next slide to see what one of the main contributors to this downward trend has been.
Just as hours worked by employed Australians has decreased since the 1980s, the proportion of employed people who were full time has also decreased (84% in 1980 compared with 70% in 2011). In effect, the decrease in the proportion of full timers in more recent years has led to a decrease in the average hours worked by all employed people.
Click on the next slide to see how the average hours of full-time workers has been changing.
If we focus just on those employed full time, the story of hours worked by Australians changes. Average hours worked per week for those employed full time were higher across the 2000s (40 hours) than they were during the 1980s (39 hours), but they were lower than they had been in the 1990s.
Glossary from ABS Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0)
Actual hours of work
Actual hours of work refers to a specified reference period and includes:
hours actually worked during normal periods of work;
time spent in addition to hours worked during normal periods of work (including overtime);
time spent at the place of work on activities such as the preparation of the workplace, repairs and maintenance, preparation and cleaning of tools, and the preparation of receipts, time sheets and reports;
time spent at the place of work waiting or standing by;
and time corresponding to short rest periods.
hours paid for but not worked, such as paid annual leave, public holidays or paid sick leave;
and time spent on travel to and from work (excluding some self-employed).
For multiple job holders actual hours worked should equal the hours worked in all jobs.
Average actual weekly hours worked
The average total number of hours a group of employed persons has actually worked during the reference week, not necessarily hours for which are paid. This is calculated as the aggregate actual weekly hours worked by a group of employed persons divided by the number of persons in the group.
All persons aged 15 years and over who, during the reference week:
worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind in a job or business, or on a farm (comprising employees, employers and own account workers); or
worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm (i.e. contributing family workers); or
were employees who had a job but were not at work and were: away from work for fewer than four weeks up to the end of the reference week; or
away from work for more than four weeks up to the end of the reference week and received pay for some or all of the four week period to the end of the reference period; or
away from work as a standard work or shift arrangement; or on strike or locked out; or on workers' compensation and expected to return to their job; or
were employers or own account workers, who had a job, business or farm, but were not at work.
Full time workers
Employed persons who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs) and those who, although usually working fewer than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week.
Part time employed
Employed persons who usually worked fewer than 35 hours a week (in all jobs) and either did so during the reference week or were not at work during the reference week.
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This page first published 23 May 2012, last updated 13 June 2012
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