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As shown in graph 2, there are notable differences in the proportion of men and women who usually work shift work in a number of the occupation categories. The broad occupation group Community and personal service workers had the highest proportion of female shift workers (29%), and of these, 40% worked as Carers and aides. The same occupation group also had the highest proportion of male shift workers (54%), but in contrast to women, the most common specific occupation of male shift workers in this broad occupation group were Protective service workers (46%). Although there was a high proportion of shift workers, this broad occupation group only represented 11% of the total workforce. While the Professionals occupation group had a relatively low proportion of shift work (12%), because of the relative size of this occupation group, it had a high number of shift workers (16% of all shift workers). However, among Professionals who are shiftworkers, the Health professionals group comprised 75%.
In the occupation category Machinery operators and drivers, 29% of employees2 were shift workers, and of these 95% were men. As with Community and personal services workers, Machinery operators and drivers only made up a relatively small percentage of the total workforce (7% of all employees2), but had a high number of shift workers. In contrast, there were relatively few Managers (9%) and Clerical and administrative workers (6%) who were shift workers.
The break-down by industry category reveals that the industry with the highest proportion of men who usually worked shift work was Mining (52%), while for women it was Health care and social assistance (32%). While half (49%) of all people (men and women) who worked in the Mining industry were shift workers, the mining industry is relatively small (2% of the total workforce), representing 6% of all shift workers (81,000). The Accommodation and food services industry also had a high proportion of shift workers (37%), of whom 44% were men and of these, 89% worked in Food and beverage services. Health care and social assistance was the industry with the largest number of shift workers (342,900 or 25% of all shift workers), and 45% of these were women.
A number of industries had very low proportions of shift workers. These include Financial and insurance services (3%), Professional, scientific and technical services (3%) and Education and training (2%).
SECTOR AND STATE
Of all public sector employees2, 18% usually worked shift work compared with 16% of private sector employees2. Queensland had the highest proportion of shift workers, and of these, 24% worked in the Public sector. Interestingly, the ACT had a very low proportion of public sector employees2 who usually worked shift work compared to the other states. This may reflect the high proportion of federal government employees2 in the ACT, as compared to the other states and territories, where there are larger numbers of state and local government employees2. For example, 77% of public sector employees in the ACT worked in the Federal Government, compared with the other states and territories where less than 13% of public sector employees worked in the Federal Government (Survey of Employment and Earnings, Public Sector, Australia (cat. no. 6248.0.55.002).
As graph 5 shows, rotating shifts were the most common form of shift work for both men and women (48% and 37% respectively), followed by irregular shifts (16% and 22%) and evening shifts (15% and 16%).
The days on which shift workers worked varied considerably from those who didn't work shift work, with shift workers more likely to work on both weekdays and weekends. For example, just over a quarter (26%) of shift workers worked weekdays only, whereas a much higher proportion (79%) of non-shift workers worked weekdays only, which reflects the twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week nature of shift work. Shift workers who worked a rotating shift were most likely to work on both weekdays and weekends (80%) and almost two thirds (65%) of shift workers who worked a regular evening shift usually worked on both weekdays and weekends. Less than half (41%) of shift workers who only worked a regular afternoon shift worked exclusively on weekdays.
Around a quarter (26%) of shift workers had some say in their start and finish times, whereas 45% of non-shift workers had some say in their start and finish times. This reflects the nature of shift work, as shift workers generally have predetermined shifts and less flexibility in start and finish times.
The hours worked in shifts show some interesting results. Men worked longer shifts than women, on average, with 41% of men working 9 to 12 hours in their most recent shift. In contrast, 77% of women worked 8 hours or less in their most recent shift.
For further information about the Working Time Arrangements Survey, see Working Time Arrangements, Australia, November 2009 (cat. no. 6342.0). This publication is available free of charge on the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>.
1. Definitions of these shifts are available in the glossary as well as Working Time Arrangements, Australia, November 2009 (cat. no. 6342.0).
2. Employees excluding owner managers of incorporated enterprises (OMIEs). While any employed person could work shift work, this article focuses on employees (excluding OMIEs) only.
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