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Aussies doing 5 hours of unpaid work every week: How to switch off

Unpaid work costs Aussies around $8,000 every year.

A composite image of office workers and a person working from home looking stressed.
Aussies are losing thousands of dollars a year doing unpaid work. (Source: Getty / AAP)

Have you ever jumped online to answer an email or picked up a call from your boss when you’ve already clocked off work for the day? You’re not alone.

More than four in five (82 per cent) Aussies feel pressure to connect to work outside their normal working hours.

According to a poll by recruitment and workforce-solutions specialists Hays, 46 per cent of almost 25,000 professionals surveyed “frequently” felt pressure to work outside their standard hours.


“The lines between work and personal time have blurred, with most professionals feeling some level of pressure to connect outside normal working hours,” Hays Asia Pacific CEO Matthew Dickason said.

“To protect employee health and well-being, improve productivity and reduce the risk of burnout, employers need to reprioritise work-life balance. In today’s 24/7, hybrid and remote world, they must develop strategies to help their employees disconnect.

“The ‘right to disconnect’ refers to the ability of employees to switch off from work-related tasks and devices outside their normal working hours. It’s gaining renewed attention as a strategy to help minimise the risk of work following employees home or into their evening.”

A recent Australia Institute study found the average Aussie worker put in six weeks of unpaid work every year - amounting to around $8,000.

How to create boundaries at work

If you feel pressure to regularly connect outside of normal working hours, Hays suggested setting clear boundaries with your colleagues and managers.

“Communicate your working hours and let people know when you’re available and when you’re not,” Dickason said.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload, talk to a trusted colleague or your manager. Ask for support or help to prioritise tasks.

“Turn off work-related notifications at night and take time to rest, recharge, pursue interests and spend time with family and friends.

“Use your full annual leave to completely unplug from work so you can relax and return refreshed.”

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