Preferred Working Hours of Wage and Salary Earners, Queensland

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    The survey is to measure the extent of overemployed persons in Queensland.


    The survey is required to measure the extent and composition of overemployed and involuntary employed persons. Employment growth and unemployment reduction are a key priority of the current State government. Output from the survey is needed for development of appropriate policy options.

    The Queensland Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the Breaking the Unemployment Cycle strategy. Major users of the data will be:

    • Queensland Treasury
    • Department of Premier and Cabinet
    • Department of Employment, Training and Industrial Relations
    • Department of State Development
    • various academic institutions.

    Anecdotal evidence of growth in over employment represents a major element in understanding the Queensland and national labour markets and has particular implications for modelling both labour supply and labour demand, particularly in respect to the extent that unpaid work is voluntary rather than involuntary. There are also implications for equity and income distribution which directly affect policy options at the State and Commonwealth levels.

    These data will facilitate research into a number of emerging issues in labour economics such as:

    • Whether the current level of over employment is sustainable - is growth in unpaid work creating pressure points in the labour market?
    • Is the incidence of unpaid hours more prevalent in industries/occupations with a greater proportion of employment growth in non-standard arrangements. To what extent is this voluntary on the part of employees?
    • To what extent do overemployed workers match underemployed and unemployed in terms of skills and qualifications. What are the policy implications for reducing unemployment?

    Other complementary sources of data exist such as the Survey of Working Arrangements conducted in 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2003. This survey provides a range of useful data relating to changes in working patterns including an estimate of the number of workers undertaking unpaid work. Another source of data which exist is the Working Hours of Wage and Salary Earners, Queensland conducted in 1999. This survey is based on the current cycle of the 2006 Overemployed Workers in Queensland.

    Also, recent research by Buchanan and Bearfield (1997), Reforming Working Time, Alternatives to Unemployment, Casualisation and Excessive Hours, suggests that as many as 19.3% of workers regularly undertake unpaid work.

    While these data highlight the significance of over-employment as an issue for all labour market analysts, there is little information available at the State level in terms of unpaid hours, the characteristics of workers preferring to reduce their hours and the extent to which over-employment is voluntary or involuntary.


    The scope of the collection includes all wage and salary earners in all jobs resident in Queensland aged 15 years and over who were usual residents of private dwellings except:

    • members of the permanent defence forces;
    • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from censuses and surveys;
    • overseas residents in Australia; and
    • members of non-australian defence forces (and their dependents) stationed in Australia.
    • Residents of non-private dwellings such as hospitals, motels and goals were excluded from this survey.


    For the survey, coverage rules of the Labour Force Survey were applied which aimed to ensure that each person was associated with only one dwelling, and hence had only one chance of selection in the survey. The chance of a person being enumerated at two separate dwellings in the one survey is considered to be negligible.

    Persons who are away from their usual residence for 6 weeks or less at the time of interview are enumerated at their usual residence (relevant information may be obtained from other usual residents present at the time of the survey.


    Conceptual framework
    Labour Force Survey

    Main outputs

    For employed wage and salary earners in Queensland published and unpublished tables may include:

      • hours worked by standard hours, paid overtime hours and unpaid overtime hours
      • where preference was to have worked fewer hours
      • number of hours preferred to work
      • whether reasons for working unpaid hours were voluntary or involuntary
      • whether time off in lieu of unpaid hours is available.
    Cross classification variables include:
      • age,
      • sex,
      • employment status,
      • income,
      • sector,
      • marital status,
      • union membership,
      • qualifications.
    and from the Labour Force Survey by:
      • industry,
      • occupation,
      • family relationship


    Standard Classifications were used for Labour Force variables.

    Other concepts (summary)

    The concept of overemployment or excess hours without pay was difficult to define in the context of diminishing recognition of standard working hours. This definition was particularly problematic for salary earners where expected hours were not clearly specified.


    Comments and/or Other Regions

    Indigenous or sparsely settled stratum excluded


    Frequency comments
    Once only

    Repeat of the Hours of Wage and Salary Earners, Queensland 1999


    Data availability comments

    Publication tables and special requested tables will be available for the client subject to reliability constraints. Validation checks will be carried out against other sources.

    03/07/2007 11:37 AM