The length of the working week and the flexibility of working time are two aspects which impact on the international competitiveness of Australian industry. The popular view of the Australian worker is often couched in terms such as “lazy” and “slack”, and the “sickie” appears to have gained a permanent place in Australian vocabulary. Presents evidence, however, which tends to suggest that the lazy “tag” may be somewhat inappropriate. Comparison of the Australian estimates on hours of work with international data obtained from the OECD and the ILO indicates that Australian full‐time workers are working more hours than most other OECD countries. Also, full‐time employees are working considerably longer hours than they did a decade ago. Puts forward four primary reasons for this increase in hours worked by full‐time employees: (1) a substantial increase in the proportion of employees working in excess of 48 hours per week; (2) a decrease in absence rates over the last ten years; (3) a decline in the amount of annual and long service leave taken by full‐time employees; and (4) a significant decrease over the last decade in time lost owing to industrial disputes. Of greater concern is the flexibility of working time. Evidence suggests, for example, that penalty rates of pay and working time restrictions have tended to spread through the award system to an extent that is not healthy for Australian industry. While there has been some relaxation of these rigidities, it is thought that there is considerable scope for further moves in this direction.
Dawkins, P. and Simpson, M. (1994), "Work, Leisure and the Competitiveness of Australian Industry", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 15 No. 9, pp. 38-76. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437729410074209
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