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Industrial Relations Reform and Business Performance: An Introduction


  • Mark Wooden

    () (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Joanne Loundes

    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)


This paper examines whether there has been a significant trend towards longer working hours in Australia, and whether working arrangements involving long hours are unreasonable. Recent years have seen growing concern with the number of hours many Australians are spending in paid employment. While average hours worked per week have remained relatively stable since the early 1980s, the incidence of both long and short workweeks has increased. Overall, the conclusion is that working long hours is on many criteria, far from unreasonable. It would appear that the majority of long hours workers prefer such arrangements. Attempts to interfere with such preferences through regulation will thus, in most instances, either lead to workers feeling worse off or fail to have any affect on worker behaviour. It is recognised that there are many instances where the hours being worked by individuals are having serious adverse impacts on health and family life and hence may sensibly be judged unreasonable. Nevertheless, it seems that such cases are best dealt with on a case by case basis and not through the imposition of across-the-board limits on hours, which may make far more people worse off than it makes better off.

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  • Mark Wooden & Joanne Loundes, 2002. "Industrial Relations Reform and Business Performance: An Introduction," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2002n01, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2002n01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Burgess, 1998. "Working-Time Patterns And Working-Time Deregulation In Australia," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 17(2), pages 35-47, June.
    2. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    3. David George, 1997. "Working Longer Hours: Pressure from the Boss or Pressure from the Marketers?," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(1), pages 33-65.
    4. Iain Campbell & Peter Brosnan, 1999. "Labour Market Deregulation in Australia: The slow combustion approach to workplace change," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3), pages 353-394.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tim R.L. Fry & Kelly Jarvis & Joanne Loundes, 2002. "Are Pro-Reformers Better Performers?," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2002n18, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    2. Tim Fry & Kelly Jarvis & Joanne Loundes, 2003. "Industrial Relations Reform: Who Are the Pro-Reformers?," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2003n11, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.

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