Today the Industrial Relations Commission will hear final submissions on the ACTUs Reasonable Hours test case which seeks to give Australian workers more control over the burgeoning amount of overtime they are being required to work.

Just in the last 12 months, full-time employees averaged 42 hours a week, nearly two and a half hours more compared with the previous year, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Westpac Bank.

“Australia has the second longest working hours in the OECD. A quarter of the workforce puts in more than 50 hours – that would be unlawful in Europe. It’s little wonder Australia is experiencing the highest rate of childlessness since the Great Depression, ” said ACTU Secretary Greg Combet.

He said an increasing number of workers were not being paid for their overtime and had no access to paid holiday and sick leave.

“The ABS figures say working at night or at the weekend is becoming the norm for 64 per cent of employees. Unfortunately stress, poor performance at work and pressure on family life have also become the norm for thousands of workers. The ACTU is asking the IRC to restore some balance to their lives.”

“This test case is the first serious review of Australia’s working hours in over half a century and is long overdue. If the ACTU succeeds, people working excessive overtime will be entitled to 2 days break and will establish flexible guidelines on unreasonable hours,” Mr Combet said.

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet will be available for a doorstop at 9.15am, Tuesday June 11, Industrial Relations Commission, Nauru House, Level 39, 80 Collins Street, Melbourne

For further interviews:

Dr Barbara Pocock, Director, Centre for Labour Research, 0414 244 606

Dr John Buchanan, ACCIRT, 02 9351 5626, 0418 207 945