Working time alterations within the Australian construction industry

Keith Townsend (Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Helen Lingard (School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia)
Lisa Bradley (School of Management, QUT, Brisbane, Australia)
Kerry Brown (Centre for Tourism, Leisure and Work, SCU, Bilinga, Australia)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 16 February 2011



The purpose of this paper is to provide a labour process theory interpretation of four case studies within the Australian construction industry. In each case study a working time intervention (a shift to a five‐day working week from the industry standard six days) was implemented as an attempt to improve the work‐life balance of employees.


This paper was based on four case studies with mixed methods. Each case study has a variety of data collection methods which include questionnaires, short and long interviews, and focus groups.


It was found that the complex mix of wage‐ and salary‐earning staff within the construction industry, along with labour market pressures, means that changing to a five‐day working week is quite a radical notion within the industry. However, there are some organisations willing to explore opportunities for change with mixed experiences.

Practical implications

The practical implications of this research include understanding the complexity within the Australian construction industry, based around hours of work and pay systems. Decision‐makers within the construction industry must recognize a range of competing pressures that mean that “preferred” managerial styles might not be appropriate.


This paper shows that construction firms must take an active approach to reducing the culture of long working hours. This can only be achieved by addressing issues of project timelines and budgets and assuring that take‐home pay is not reliant on long hours of overtime.



Townsend, K., Lingard, H., Bradley, L. and Brown, K. (2011), "Working time alterations within the Australian construction industry", Personnel Review, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 70-86.

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