Calls to soften working hours

Published: 30 May 2016

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It’s the greatest con of the modern age. While technology promised to make our lives easier, so far all it’s done has made us work longer, and harder.

Now one group of researchers wants that to change.

Staffers at RMIT University are leading the charge, calling for a capped 38 hour working week, giving employees everywhere a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

It’s a movement they claim will make it easier for men to share the load at home as well as providing an opportunity for women to seek more working hours.

However, the notion would also allow for mutually agreed overtime.

The RMIT University study, spearheaded by a network of 34 leading academics who specialise in work and family policy, is calling on the government to enforce regular work schedules for casual and part-time workers.

The network, Work and Family Policy Roundtable, is also pushing for paid palliative care leave, domestic violence leave and paid annual leave on pro-rata basis for casuals.

According to reports, it is evident men often work far more than just 38 hours per week while women caring for children tend to work short part-time hours.

"We have one of the most gendered and polarised working time regimes in the OECD," Roundtable co-convenor Professor Sara Charlesworth said.

Professor Charlesworth added that when women have children they tend to work less and in lower quality jobs, while men start working more hours once they become a father.

"If you have a two-parent household with care responsibilities, then that limits the total time available for care. Women tend to be the shock absorbers,” she said.

“They are the ones adjusting themselves around what are often the fixed long hours of their partner."

Sydneysiders work on average 1829 hours per year and only had 24 days paid annual leave.

While European cities, including Paris have few working hours and more vacation days.

On average, Parisians work 1604 per year and 29 paid vacation days, according to a report be UBS.

Sydney is also ranked 38th behind Hong Kong in first place for having the longest working hours – 2606 and 17 paid vacation days.