Footnote(s): (a) Annual average.
Source(s): ABS Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001)
The number of hours that a person works can determine their level of remuneration and the time they have available to spend on things outside work, such as family, study or recreational activities.
The average number of hours worked per week has decreased over the last three decades, falling from 35.7 hours per week in 1979 to 32.8 hours per week hours in 2009, largely due to an increase in the proportion of people working part time. The average hours worked by full-time workers rose during the 1990s, peaking at 41.3 hours per week in 2000, but decreasing to 39.7 hours per week in 2009.
The average number of hours worked per week by part-time workers increased slightly over time, from around 15 hours in the 1980s to approximately 16 hours from 2000 onwards.
Working long hours
While working longer hours may be financially rewarding, particularly for people working in their own businesses for a share of profit, not all people who are working long hours wish to do so, and not all are paid for the excess work time. Excessive working hours can be detrimental to productivity and to wellbeing through stress and a lack of work/life balance.
The proportion of employed people who worked 50 hours or more a week increased from 14% in 1979 to 19% in 1999, before falling to 15% in 2009 during the recent economic downturn. The proportion of employed people who worked very long hours (60 hours or more a week) increased from 7% in 1979 to 9% in 1992, where it stayed until 2000 before declining to 7% in 2009.
Owner managers (people working in their own business) who work full-time hours (35 hours or more a week) tend to work more hours per week than those who are employees. Full-time owner managers worked on average 49 hours per week in November 2009, compared to an average 40 hours per week for employees (excluding owner managers of incorporated enterprises) (ABS 2010b).
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