Work, work, break?

A new report released by national network of specialists has advocated for a maximum 38-hour work week. The report was released this week by the Work + Family Roundtable, a group of 34 academics who specialise in work and family policies. They believe that a shorter workweek is the best way of achieving gender equality in the workforce.

Putting a limit on the amount of work hours would mean that there would be a more equal distribution of paid and unpaid work, so that men could spend more time doing unpaid work and women could spend more time in paid employment.

Professor Sara Charlesworth, co-convenor of the Roundtable, has said that Australia is among the worst offenders for gendered working regimes. Australia has some of the longest work hours in the OECD, with many men working far well beyond 38 hours per week.

“When women become mothers they tend to work very short part-time hours. As soon as a man becomes a father his hours of work go up,” Professor Charlesworth said. The implementation of a 38-hour work week would alleviate this imbalance and create more work for mothers and caretakers.