The Australia Institute estimated that we worked 2.4 billion hours of unpaid overtime in 2019, worth a total of $81.5 billion. This is the equivalent to more than 6 weeks of unpaid work per worker per year – 1.5 times what we receive in paid annual leave time.
These “overwork” trends are reversing the gains made since the 19th century, when workers averaged 100 hrs over a 6 day work week. Not surprisingly, average lifespans and health standards were dreadful. Workers campaigned, with the support of enlightened industrialists, emerging political parties and social institutions, and the 8 hour working day became the norm by the early 20th century in the developed world. Workers became better educated, technology improved and nearly all of us became much healthier, safer, longer living, more productive and better paid. So why do we seem to be slipping back towards “the bad old days” ?
In short, there have been three megatrends that are causing a significant impact on our work life harmony. If we do not recognise and respond to these trends, unpaid work will continue to silently cannibalise our personal lives.