Are Australians work shy?

I was reading a typical left-wing apologist writing about Australia being very much in line with other developed economies when it comes to wages, conditions and leave entitlements.  Normal stuff – nothing to see, move along, if you object to this stuff, you are a heartless, homicidal beast.

But having been trained in the “if it looks wrong, it is wrong” school of thinking, I came across this chart and thought: hang on a minute – we have more than 7 public holidays a year.  In Victoria, at least, there are 11 public holidays each year because Easter Saturday is a declared public holiday (Jeff Kennett tried to get rid of this, but his decision was reversed).  The others are: New Year’s Day, Australia Day, Labour Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, ANZAC Day, Queen’s Birthday, Melbourne Cup, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

So instead of the total being 27 it is actually 31 statutory days of leave (at least for permanent workers) which pretty much puts Australia up the top of the pack, along with basket cases such as Spain, Portugal and Italy.

Note that the source of the document is Harvard, No Vacation Report.  One wonders whether the figures for the other countries are also inaccurate.  Take care when accepting the veracity of figures and charts in documents trying to push an agenda (Americans need more statutory holidays) seems to be the message.

 

Int annual leave(1)

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42 Responses to Are Australians work shy?

  1. Token

    What does that matter if an employer can get 260 extremely productive value adding days from an employee?

    I don’t understand weekend penalty rates for people who have not worked 5 full days, & I don’t get what productivity gains will come from people who work 50-90 hours per week, who are paid for 40, working 2 or 3 extra days.

  2. Token

    How about addressing the working day of teachers so parents don’t need to shell out for after school care or take time off early on a productive day?

  3. Infidel tiger

    The employers of those workers getting all those holidays certainly aren’t sharing in the time off.

    That graph looks like a who’s who of busted arse economies.

  4. boy on a bike

    I thought that in the US, you only get 2 weeks leave for your first few years of employment with a company. After a certain period, you get 4 weeks. Is that right?

  5. I’ll hold my hand up & say I prefer to employ anyone but Australians.
    For the past few years the ratio has been about One Australian for every 15-20 non-Australians.

    Discrimination? You betcha! I’ve had my fingers burned financially too many times. I ran the numbers, & Australians came up on the extremely likely side to be lazy, turn up late, under perform, be sour, slovenly (poor personal grooming) uncommitted, white-anting types who don’t even have the courtesy to give notice.

    In short, Australians are a substandard product. I prefer to be running a business, not running after resentful staff who won’t even get out of bed.

  6. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    In short, Australians are a substandard product.

    The last time, I advertised for full time farm hands to work in rural Australia, I had one Australian applicant – and he declined when he found out how far away from Perth we were. (His opening comment -”Where? I didn’t think ANYONE lived that far out” did nothing to advance his cause.) Plenty of New Zealanders and South Africans, though.

  7. Squirrel

    Interesting to note that Germany is reported as having 10 paid holidays, which might tend to confirm Steve at the Pub’s comments about attitude.

    There’s also the point that for many small business and otherwise self-employed people, leave and paid holidays are irrelevant – if you don’t work, you don’t get paid (another version of a “two speed economy”, if you like) and what’s holiday time for others (who expect businesses to be open all hours) can actually be an opportunity to make some decent money.

  8. Abraham

    Steve …

    Politicians are out of touch because they – unlike you – do not reside in the real world. As a business owner, at the end of the month it’s about whether you’re making a profit or a loss. A profit ensures continued employment for every one. Achieving a profit while being forced through government regulation to pay for and at times endure because you can’t easily rid yourself the type of employee you’ve described is near impossible.

    I take my hat off to blokes like yourself, the business owner providing me with the services I require while having to do battle with government BS and useless workers. I’ll drink to you Mate.

  9. Bolter

    I think it will have to do with certain public holidays needing to be gazetted by the state annually. So 7 is technically correct by the criteria used. Completely wrong in practice of course. I do national IR and paste stuff and this is a common issue.

  10. Abraham

    Plenty of New Zealanders and South Africans, though.

    That’s why the Wallabies are such a crap rugby team. Seems to me the Aussies need to toughen up a bit. :-)

  11. JC

    Yes boab, that’s correct. Two weeks for non senior type staff and there no such thing as overtime rates in the non union sector. You want to work, you get more hours, which is a good thing in itself.

    Americans are also very efficient in the way they organize their vacation time like around public holidays in order to squeeze more time off. Take Thanksgiving Thursday for instance….. Most people would take off the Friday thereby making it four days off work.

    The other thing you notice is that they actually don’t have attitude towards work. They like it.

  12. JC

    Interesting to note that Germany is reported as having 10 paid holidays,

    Americans also have 10 days too I think.

  13. incoherent rambler

    Are Australians work shy?

    No, they are short of work.
    Ask how many 50+ (professional, productive and employable) males are treated like lepers after their 55th birthday.
    AND
    Q. What do you call an under 25 science/engineering graduate?
    A. Waiter!

  14. Noddy

    >Steve at the Pub
    #1181934, posted on February 8, 2014 at 11:59 am
    Discrimination? You betcha! I’ve had my fingers burned financially too many times. I ran the numbers, & Australians came up on the extremely likely side to be lazy, turn up late, under perform, be sour, slovenly (poor personal grooming) uncommitted, white-anting types who don’t even have the courtesy to give notice. In short, Australians are a substandard product. I prefer to be running a business, not running after resentful staff who won’t even get out of bed.<

    Would you ever consider that you are a poor boss with poor poor personal management skills?
    You obviously do not know how to understand people and gain their respect in the first place.
    Do you ever ask workers in another business "how long have you worked here?" A high turnover of staff generally points to a 'poor workplace'.

  15. Would you ever consider that you are a poor boss with poor poor personal management skills?

    No.

    You obviously do not know how to understand people and gain their respect in the first place.

    Expand on that, motormouth.

    A high turnover of staff generally points to a ‘poor workplace’.

    You read that in a book.
    Have you considered that you know nothing about the hospitality business, even less about remote (not “regional”) area retail hiring?

  16. Ant

    It’s not a new thing.

    I recall in my final secondary school year I was chatting amongst the class about what we would do in the coming year.

    One chimed in and said that she was going to go on the dole for a year “just to see what it was like”. A bunch thought that it was a great idea.

    That was 1980.

  17. caveman

    More like worked squeezed than shy.

  18. Notafan

    I agree, as a small business owner I often don’t realise it is even a public holiday. I close Christmas Day and Good Friday, for the on-line part I answer messages day and night though to the internationals who start complaining when their 3 am message isn’t anwered at 4 am I do explain to them that there is a time zone difference, there is only me to deal with their enquiry and I usually only get up at 5ish.
    On the upside when the shop is customer free I can read the blogs I enjoy.

  19. Notafan

    What do you call an under 25 science/engineering graduate

    My offspring with the engineering degree had no trouble finding work though that is chem eng.

  20. Wozzup

    Let me answer the question this way. Every year the World Economic Forum publishes a Global Competitiveness Report in which it ranks the performance of 150 or so countries in terms of their competitiveness as a place to do business. Here is the 2013 report http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2012-13.pdf Go to the summary page for Oz (page 95) and see the results. Australia overall sits at about 20th out of the 144 countries surveyed. Not bad you might say. But not so good when you consider that a few years ago we were around 12th. And here are some relevant rankings for some important criteria: Flexibility of wage determination (ie ability for firms to negotiate wages that meet their needs) – 123 out of 144; Hiring and firing practices – 120th; Pay and productivity – 80th; cooperation in labour / employer relations – 67th. Burden of government regulation – 96th. These are all dreadful results that drag us down to third world levels on these measures. Do not expect unions to be willing to make reforms that will address these terrible failings. And hence do not expect labor governments to ever do so either. Unless the current liberal federal government does then this country is going to continue to head backwards. So in answer to your question are Australians work shy – when you look at measures like productivity and the rigid systems of labor relations that operate here that lock in those poor outcomes, you would have to say yes they are work shy and not only that, the systems they have adopted are designed to reinforce this and to benefit the most lazy.

  21. Squirrel

    “Wozzup

    #1182031, posted on February 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Let me answer the question this way. Every year the World Economic Forum publishes a Global Competitiveness Report in which it ranks the performance of 150 or so countries in terms of their competitiveness as a place to do business. Here is the 2013 report http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2012-13.pdf Go to the summary page for Oz (page 95) and see the results. Australia overall sits at about 20th out of the 144 countries surveyed. Not bad you might say. But not so good when you consider that a few years ago we were around 12th. And here are some relevant rankings for some important criteria: Flexibility of wage determination (ie ability for firms to negotiate wages that meet their needs) – 123 out of 144; Hiring and firing practices – 120th; Pay and productivity – 80th; cooperation in labour / employer relations – 67th. Burden of government regulation – 96th. These are all dreadful results that drag us down to third world levels on these measures. Do not expect unions to be willing to make reforms that will address these terrible failings. And hence do not expect labor governments to ever do so either. Unless the current liberal federal government does then this country is going to continue to head backwards. So in answer to your question are Australians work shy – when you look at measures like productivity and the rigid systems of labor relations that operate here that lock in those poor outcomes, you would have to say yes they are work shy and not only that, the systems they have adopted are designed to reinforce this and to benefit the most lazy.”

    I was curious to see what balanced-out those dismal ratings, to bring us back up to 20th place overall:

    “Australia delivers a consistent—and essentially unchanged—
    performance across the board, the highlight of which
    is its 7th rank in the financial market development
    pillar, the only pillar where it features in the top 10.
    The country also earns very good marks for higher
    education and training, placing 15th. Australia’s favorable
    macroeconomic situation is improving further (25th, up
    one place). Its budget deficit was reduced in 2012 and
    inflation brought to under 2 percent, while the public
    debt-to-GDP ratio, though on the rise, is the third lowest
    among advanced economies, behind only Estonia and
    Luxembourg. The main area of concern for Australia is
    the rigidity of its labor market…….” [Country Profile Highlights, page 8]

  22. Formerly A Political

    Many post WWII migrants to Australia considered Australian workers to be very, very workshy. My Dad was sent to country WA to work on the railway lines. One day he came home shaking his head over this story: The gang boss took all the migrant workers aside and cautioned them to work, not only more slowly, but also less because it showed-up the Australian workers and made them seem lazy.

    Mum thought that he was being a bit liberal with the truth, but all the other men working with Dad backed up his story.

    So it would appear that workshy Australians have been on the landscape for quite some time.

    What has changed lately is the sense of entitlement to privileges which were put in place to protect workers in a time of need. Our son is adamant that he is entitled to use his yearly allocation of sick leave whether or not he is sick. Yet when we worked we never took sick leave unless sick. No amount of explaining has any effect and his trump card seems to be that everyone in the workforce does the same.

  23. stackja

    Formerly A Political
    #1182073, posted on February 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm
    Many post WWII migrants to Australia considered Australian workers to be very, very workshy.

    ALP was in power from 1941-1949. My father and his mates born before ALP changed the work ethic were not workshy. They needed the money and worked hard.

  24. stackja

    Liberty Quotes
    “Wages are not paid for labor expended, but for the achievements of labor, which differ widely in quality and quantity.” — Ludwig von Mises

  25. It’s not just New Australians who’ve found Aussies to be work-shy.
    One of my former bosses took a job with Telecom. He was given an offsider, a truck & a job list.
    Upon finishing the jobs he came back to the depot for more jobs. This created some puzzlement, nobody knew what to do. For this had never happened before. A job card was supposed to last all day, nobody in that depot (perhaps all of Telecom) had ever before complained of not working hard enough.

    This went on day after day. after a few weeks an officer was sent to counsel him on his difficulty with “workplace adjustment” (someone was sent to tell him to slow down).

    Finally he got the message, would finish his jobs before lunch, drop the offsider home, then go & work in the afternoons contract fencing with his brother.

  26. JamesS

    Steve, I have experienced employing staff in a small motel business and in an optometry business. Hospitality workers take the cake – for some the world owes them a living and the FWA regulation works against the employer. Inevitably we all put on a dud, an easy way is needed to move people on if things don’t work out. Endless pages of dairy notes and performance reviews is denigrating for all concerned.

  27. Baldrick

    With a mindset like this what do you expect:

    CFMEU members enjoy the first long weekend of 2014 proudly brought to you by your union!
    Saturday Jan 25 No work Saturday
    Sunday Jan 26th No work Sunday
    Monday Jan 27th No work Public Holiday
    Tuesday Jan 28th RDO (fixed)

    Once workers were happy with one day a week off, now it’s grown to four!

  28. Noddy

    >Steve at the Pub
    #1181975, posted on February 8, 2014 at 12:34 pm
    Would you ever consider that you are a poor boss with poor poor personal management skills?
    No.
    You obviously do not know how to understand people and gain their respect in the first place.
    Expand on that, motormouth.
    A high turnover of staff generally points to a ‘poor workplace’.
    You read that in a book.
    Have you considered that you know nothing about the hospitality business, even less about remote (not “regional”) area retail hiring?<

    A good day… I got a 'bite'!

  29. JC

    Noddy does have a good point Stevie.

    If your personnel are so bad, you may want to review your poor management skills. You don’t appear to be strong in the regard since you started posting on this blog.

    Assume you’re only 30% the asshat at work than you are here on Cat, it still makes you into a pretty decent sized asshat.

  30. A good day… I got a ‘bite’!

    Another way of saying you’re a dickhead.

  31. JC, STFU, youre knowledge of the pub trade is limited to knowing which way to vomit as you exit.

  32. Jim Rose

    see table 2 of http://www.american.com/archive/2010/july/labor-pains by richard rogerson that shows weekly hours worked per working age person between 1960 and 2000.

    australian hours worked per working age person dropped 4.3%, the USA increased by 10% while most EU countries saw drops in hours worked of 25% to 35%

  33. Richard Bender

    Judith, you missed the other rort with public holidays: if New Years Day, ANZAC Day, Christmas Day or Boxing Day fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the Monday becomes a public holiday, too.

    Q. What do you call an under 25 science/engineering graduate?
    A. Waiter!

    Because you chose to study science or engineering you’re entitled to a job as a scientist or an engineer?

  34. Disillusioned

    Because you chose to study science or engineering you’re entitled to a job as a scientist or an engineer?

    As opposed to being a Macdonalds worker if you took an arts degree? Science outranks basket weaving anyday.

  35. ProEng

    The chart for Japan is wrong. Japan has lots of Public Holidays (see here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_Japan) – the country comes to a stop in early May. Many take annual leave then to extend their break.

  36. .

    Um Steve the workers you reject are basically your customers.

    How do you go with customer service?

    Is an Australian kid given a good course on customer service better or worse than everyone else you prefer to employ?

    I’m just a bit mystified when those employees you reject may end up being your customers, suppliers, competitors or even a licensing sergeant!

    How many foreigners do you get to come out your way to work?

  37. tomix

    Written on the wall above the paper dispenser, UQ medical faculty, 1980s:

    Engineering Degrees- please take one

  38. .

    Snobby, uppity little pricks.

    After the information age, people know what condition they may have.

    Some mug with an internet connection probably can’t find the inverse of an AB matrix and work out if a structure is going to fail from that information.

    Ah well. I guess as long as those Med school guys were happy beating their chests that they studied English literature that they would never read again, at a more in depth level than others who had a choice between a trade and a profession.

    Well done guys, you wrote a third rate essay on Shakespeare better than some other 17n year olds.

    Have a fucking medal.

  39. Jim Rose

    ATMs shut on public holidays in japan.

  40. Jim Rose

    on japan, they worked 6 days a week until 1988, a law phased the length of the working week down to a five day week by 1997. worked saturday mornings for a few years in that interval.

    after this 20% reduction in labour supply, the economy was depressed and capital investment weak.

  41. Jim Rose

    see http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/documents/EEF/Hayashi%20&%20Prescott%201990s%20Japan%202001.pdf for the inside oil on the last decade: much lower TFP growth from 1990 and a 1/6th shorter working week

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