Overtime Work Is On The Rise In Australian Organisations

Australian organisations have experienced an increase in business activity in the last 12 months and many are expecting existing staff to put in extra hours. For some employees, this overtime work is unpaid. That’s according to new research by recruitment firm Hays.

Woman working overtime image from Shutterstock

For Hays’ Salary Guide 2016, the company surveyed 2752 companies representing over 2.6 million employees across Australia and New Zealand. While 60 per cent of organisations have had staff put in the same hours as before, 30 per cent have reported that they increased overtime. Among that group, 36 per cent said that staff are putting in an extra five to 10 hours per week while 10 per cent indicated that overtime has increased by more than 10 hours each week.

Ten per cent of organisations have managed to reduce overtime.

According to Hays managing director for Australia and New Zealand Nick Deligiannis, companies are willing to hire new staff to accommodate for additional workloads, but they are expecting existing workers to put in extra hours as well. The problem is, 62 per cent of non-award staff aren’t being compensated for the overtime they’ve doing.

Deligiannis said:

“Perhaps it’s time for employers to stop listening to the economic pessimists and instead take the position that their organisation can afford to pay overtime. After all, almost two-thirds of employers (64%) say they experienced increased business activity over the past 12 months, and 70% expect further increased activity in the year ahead.
“There could also be a good business case for adding a permanent or temporary member to the team to help relieve pressure on existing staff.”

It is legal for employers to ask staff to do overtime but the amount has to be reasonable. According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, overtime can be reasonable if it takes into account the following:

  • any risk to health and safety from working the extra hours
  • the employee’s personal situation, including their family responsibilities
  • the needs of the workplace
  • if the employee is entitled to receive overtime payments or penalty rates for working the extra hours
  • if they are paid at a higher rate on the understanding that they work some overtime
  • if the employee was given enough notice that they may have to work overtime
  • if the employee has already stated they can’t ever work overtime
  • the usual patterns of work in the industry

If the request is unreasonable, employees can refuse to do overtime, many people find it difficult to say “no” to their employers, especially if they’re angling for a promotion.

Have you been staying back at work longer than usual these days? Are you staying up late to do get work done? Let us know in the comments.


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