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Greens call for cap on working hours

The Australian Greens remain deeply concerned about the long and often unpaid hours worked by many Australians, highlighted in a report from the Australia Institute released today.

"The Something for Nothing report confirms that Australians work some of the longest hours in the Western world, with full time employees working an average 70 minutes unpaid overtime a day. Such hours have serious consequences for workers and their families," said Greens Workplace Relations Spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert.

"Longer hours at work mean less time with family, friends and community. We know that extended working hours for parents can have an adverse impact on children. There are also serious occupational health and safety risks with extended working hours.

"It is time Australia had an open and genuine debate about changing our culture of long hours, including consideration of a mandatory limit on working hours and strengthening the right to refuse unpaid overtime.

"As the Report points out, unpaid overtime contributes $72m to our economy and could be used to create a further 1.16 million full time jobs.

"If the Government was serious about ensuring fair working conditions and decent non-working lives for Australian workers, it will act to assist Australians to balance their working and family lives," Senator Siewert said.

"The Government missed the opportunity to address the unacceptable reliance on unpaid labour in the form of unpaid overtime when it passed the Fair Work Act earlier in the year. The Fair Work Act essentially replicates the Work Choices reasonable hours provisions which provide little protection to workers from demands for overtime.

Most other OECD countries have a cap on working hours and Australia needs to catch up," she concluded.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas - 0417 174 302


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