Convincing the toilers? Dilemmas of long working hours in Australia

Brigid Van Wanrooy*, Shaun Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Australians work comparatively long hours and, in recent years, most of the growth in per capita working hours has come from workers already employed full time.Yet, despite the problems long working hours can cause, this trend has not attracted political attention. Increasingly, the Australian working time regime is a weak regulator of working hours and promotes only limited equality between the working hours of men and women. This article uses responses from the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2003 to investigate whether workers' preferences are in accord with regime institutions. We find that people who work long hours are no less inclined than those who work standard hours or part time to see working hours as a choice and they do this despite more often reporting that their work interferes with family life and that employers expect long hours from them. We contend that seeing long working hours as a choice may be the product of the 'liberal' working time regime itself. Multivariate analysis of the responses suggest that structural pressures work to strengthen perceptions that there is a problem with long working hours and prompt the belief that long hours are not freely chosen. Implications of these findings tell us something about possible future regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-368
Number of pages20
JournalWork, Employment & Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


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