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Overtime on the rise in NZ – employees to walk if it becomes excessive

23 Aug 2017

We’ve all burnt the midnight oil at one stage or another, whether as an intern trying to impress a boss, a student starting an assignment that’s due the following day or an entrepreneur wanting to make a dream reality.

And now, a survey from recruiting experts Hays has revealed overtime in organisations has actually increased 28 percent over the past year (while that is a substantial number, fortunately it is still lower than our cousins across the ditch who managed 32 percent).

More than 500 organisations in New Zealand were surveyed, representing almost 187,000 employees. Of these, only a miniscule 5 percent managed to reduce overtime during the past 12 months.

Of the organisations in New Zealand that experienced increased overtime, 37 percent reported the weekly increase being five hours or less, 22 percent said the weekly increase was between five and 10 hours, and for 13 percent it was more than 10 hours per week.

A separate but related poll from Hays of 578 New Zealand workers found that 69 percent would walk away and look for another job if overtime became excessive – 55 percent would do so if the overtime was unpaid, while 14 percent would do so even if they were paid for overtime.

Managing director of Hays in New Zealand, Jason Walker says we are entering a new era in modern business within New Zealand.

“Business activity is increasing in New Zealand and it’s clear that many employees are expected to do more to help organisations cope with expanded workloads,” says Walker.

The concern then is, are Kiwi employees cut out for it? The remaining 31 percent of employees in the second poll said overtime is part of the modern workplace and even if it became excessive it would not prompt them to look for another job.

“Employers need to seriously consider the financial, physical and emotional impact extra work has on their people,” says Walker.

“Can overworked employees really perform at their best? Organisations can instead bring a temporary or contract employee into their team for a set period of time to help when workloads become too much for their permanent team to complete reasonably in a standard business day or week.”

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