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40 Hour Work Week Australia

Updated: Jun 27, 2023



The 40-hour workweek is a staple of the American workplace. But is it outdated in Australia?


It's no secret that Australians are working longer hours - but is the 40-hour work week to blame? Employers and HR professionals say yes, while many employees disagree. So let's take a look at both sides of the argument.


If you're an employer, wouldn't you like your employees to be more productive? If you're an employee, wouldn't you want to have more time for yourself and your loved ones? Well, the answer to both questions is yes. Let's look into how an eight hour day would benefit employers and employees in Australia to give you a clearer idea of the situation.


The Benefits of Eight Hour Working Day


Eight hours of labour could bring a whole host of benefits to employers and employees alike. Below are a few of the benefits that an eight hours workday could bring:


For Employers

  • Improved employee productivity: By reducing the number of hours worked each week, employers can expect to see an increase in employee productivity. With more time off, employees can stay energised and focused on their tasks throughout the day. To ensure this works out well in the long term, employers must ensure that their employees have adequate breaks and hours of rest.

  • Reduced labour costs: Besides improved productivity, reducing hours will also reduce hours labour costs. Employers can save on payroll and overtime pay by reducing their staff's working hours. If your company is in a position to do so, providing employees flexible hours can help them become more productive and engaged at work.

  • Lower employee turnover: A shorter workweek can also reduce employee turnover. With more time off, employees are less likely to burn out and more willing to stay at their current job for the long haul. It could potentially lead to a more stable workforce with fewer changes in personnel over time.

For Australian Workers

  • More time for leisure activities: The main benefit of an eight hours labour is that it allows employees more free time hours recreation. With fewer hours at the office, they can spend more time with their families or engage in leisure activities such as going to the gym or taking up a hobby. This could potentially lead to improved mental and employee health, as well as a better work-life balance.

  • Increased job satisfaction: Reducing the number of hours worked each week can also lead to increased job satisfaction. With more free time, employees are able to take on additional projects or gain new skills and knowledge outside of their regular duties. As a result, it could potentially lead to more significant career progression opportunities in the long term.

  • Creates a healthier work culture: Cutting back on hours can also lead to a more positive and productive work environment. Employees' morale will likely improve with more time off as they feel less stressed and simply exhausted. It could potentially create a healthier work culture. It promotes collaboration and creativity among staff members.

Few Pitfalls of Eight Hour Days


There are some potential drawbacks to reducing the number of hours worked each week. They include:


Employers May Struggle To Manage Workloads in an Eight Hour Day


Reducing hours could lead to increased workloads, as employers must ensure that the same work is completed in shorter hours. It could increase staff stress levels and put extra pressure on managers.


To manage this, employers should ensure that the workloads are evenly distributed among staff members. Also, they should ensure employees are given adequate breaks throughout the day.


Employees May Struggle to Adjust at First


The transition from a 40-hour workweek to an eight-hour one could be challenging for some employees. For example, they may need extra time to adjust to the new schedule and become accustomed to a work routine that spans fewer hours.


To make the transition smoother, employers should provide employees with clear expectations. Ensure that there is enough feedback and support along the way.


Higher Overtime Costs


Reducing working hours could potentially lead to increased overtime costs. As employers, you need to hire extra staff or pay existing employees more money for the extra hours they put in. So it could be a challenge, primarily if the company is already operating on a tight budget.


To mitigate this, employers should consider offering flexible work arrangements. These include remote working or part-time employment. It could help them reduce overtime costs while allowing employees to enjoy the benefits of an eight-hour workday.


How Can Employers Use the 40 Hour Working Hours?


If you are an employer in Australia, there are several ways that you can make use of the 40-hour work week. Here are some tips:

  • Flexible scheduling: Offering flexible scheduling can benefit employers and employees. It allows staff to work around family commitments. Also, other obligations while still meeting productivity goals.

  • Quality over quantity: Employers should prioritise quality over quantity in their staff's output. This could help them get more value from the hours they work.

  • Promote work-life balance: Encouraging employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance is essential. It can lead to improved health and well-being and increased job satisfaction.

  • Allow remote working: To further reduce hours worked in the office, employers should consider allowing remote working whenever possible. This could potentially reduce commute times for staff and improve their overall productivity.

Overall, the 40 hour workweek is still an integral part of many workplaces in Australia. Yet, employers need to consider ways to use the system to benefit both them and their employees. Employers can reap the rewards of a more positive and productive work environment by promoting a healthier work-life balance and allowing remote work.


Talk to a HR consultant


Talk to one of our qualified HR consultants for more information:


Final Words


40 hours a week is still an important part of the Australian workplace. However, in order to make the most out of it, employers need to be flexible and consider new ways to employ it. This includes offering remote working, promoting a healthy work-life balance, and valuing quality. Employees may struggle with adjusting at first, but with the proper support, they will eventually find success in this shorter work schedule.

Have you considered the idea of reducing hours in your workplace? What challenges do you face? Contact us today to discuss the possibilities. We have plenty of experience helping create an effective and sustainable workplace environment for their staff. So let us help you make it work!

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