Millions of Aussies are overworked, underpaid or out of work according to a study from The Australian Institute titled, "Hard to Get a Break".

The study found that one in four overworked and out of work Aussies experienced anxiety, 3.3 million lost required hours of sleep, and 50 per cent of these overworked individuals would like to spend more time with their families.

On the other hand, 1.1 million of the Aussies found being compelled to be out of work demoralising and one in five of these individuals experienced anxiety for the time being out of the workforce.


Out of the estimated seven million workers (60 per cent) are not paid for the extra hours they work, the study finds. Employees are making their companies $110 billion richer for these unpaid overtime hours. Sadly, unpaid overtime work is now customary in the workplace.

Those who had been surveyed for the study said that working overtime, unpaid, maybe expected or not expected but highly encouraged in their offices. Twenty-two per cent of those interviewed said their companies expect them to take overtime without pay; 32 per cent said their companies do not expect them to render overtime without pay but it is not discouraged.


The study also revealed that 3.8 million employees routinely do not take their lunch breaks anymore. One in two of these 3.8 million said that they were too busy to take their lunch breaks.

Aside from lunch breaks, workers do not file their mandatory annual leaves.

More than 50 per cent of the total individuals surveyed for the study said that they did not take their full leave entitlements in 2012. As a result, annual leaves are stockpiled, accruing 128 million days in annual leaves or more than 350,000 years of holidays in 2012.

Lunch breaks and annual leaves are supposedly entitlements to promote health and well-being among the Australian workforce.

The survey recognized a direct correlation between work-related stress and not taking leave breaks. Those employees surveyed who did not file their annual leaves in 2012 reported negative feelings toward their work. Thirty-nine per cent felt stressed about work; 28 per cent felt anxious; 24 per cent were worried and 21 per cent were overwhelmed.

Taking all the mandatory break even the one-hour lunch break promote well-being, relieve stress and increase concentration, productivity, job satisfaction and enjoyment at work, the study says.

As for the company, less stressed, happier workers would mean higher performance and productivity and lower turnover of staff as well as reduced workplace accidents.

Out of Work

The study also finds that a large majority of those surveyed (63 per cent) said that they knew someone who had been out of the workforce for more than three months in the past two years.

A large percentage of young people (53 per cent) say the reason they are out of the workforce is because they cannot find a job, while the top reason for those aged 55-64 is sickness or ill-health. Hence, age discrimination proved to be the main reason to hinder entering the workforce.

Both the youngest and oldest age groups, however, said that they will not take a pay cut to return to work. One in five people over 65 (19 per cent) and one in four of 17-24 year olds (26 per cent) say they would consider taking a substantial pay cut compared to an average 44 per cent across the other age groups.