Australian workers could be pocketing an extra $425 a fortnight on average, or $11,000 annually, if they were being paid according to the hours they worked, new wage theft data reports.
The problem has only got worse in the last year, the annual Go Home on Time Day report said, as legislation to close wage loopholes currently being discussed in parliament.
The latest data collected on unpaid overtime has calculated employers steal $11,000 annually, or $425 per fortnight, from the average Australian worker.
Ast luxury overseas holiday could be easily afforded with the eye-watering sum that The Australia Institute found the average worker would have earned this year, during 281 hours or seven 38-hour weeks, of unpaid overtime.
But it’s not just jaunts to the French Riviera that are lost — the report said, “the value of unpaid overtime represents an enormous drain on Australia’s economy, resulting in lost incomes for households, lost consumer spending power, and less revenues for government.”
Nationwide, unpaid overtime equates to a cumulative $131 billion in uncompensated time — 57 hours more per person than last year.
Landmark WFH ruling after employee demanded to permanently work remotely
Ben never thought going to work would kill him. Then his mates started getting sick
“To put that figure into perspective, that $131 billion is equivalent to 12.7 per cent of all wages and salaries paid out in Australia over the last year,” the report said.
It’s also 40 per cent of the income tax figure expected to be collected by the government this financial year.
The annual Go Home on Time Day report findings were based on the 61 per cent of 1,640 survey respondents, who were in paid work, and highlighted an uneven playing field between casual, temporary, part-time and full-time workers.
“Employers are more likely to demand long hours, including large amounts of unpaid overtime, from full-time workers,” Centre for Future Work policy director Dr Fiona Macdonald said.
The report added, conversely, that “even workers, who can’t get enough hours of paid work, are expected by their employers to perform hundreds of hours of extra unpaid work per year.”
The annual Go Home on Time report has found that the average Australian worker was underpaid $11,000 this year. Credit: Getty Images
But it was younger workers who were found to be taking the brunt of the issue.
Workers aged between 18 and 29 racked up “the most unpaid overtime” — 7.4 hours a week on average per person.
The report also noted that fear was associated with keeping boundaries to maintain a work-life balance.
“Workers are pressured to accept demands for unpaid overtime, for fear of having their hours cut, not having temporary contracts renewed, or losing their jobs altogether,” the report said.
This is another dimension of the inequality and exploitation faced by workers in non-standard employment arrangements – and highlights the need for enhanced protections and supports for casual workers.
Legislation to close labour loopholes is currently being discussed in parliament, as employment minister Tony Burke wrangles with business groups and the opposition, which argue the move will add undue costs to businesses and make operations less flexible.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions said provisions, such as making wage theft by businesses a criminal offence, and adding minimum pay and conditions for gig workers, would help tackle the multi-billion dollar problem.
– With AAP