Obsessive Overtime

Excessive work hours or obsessive overtime. We’ve all had some experience with them.

We know that the employment landscape has changed over recent years. We know that there are new ways of working together, but that doesn’t mean old ways are not useful.  

In majority of the Modern Awards, it stipulates that a 37.5 hour work week is considered the norm. However in saying that, most people typically work shorter or longer hours.  

When the pandemic hit and many people started working from home, what the economy saw was that many employees where actually putting in more hours, over and above a standard 37.5 hour working week. So this raises the question – are employees being correctly remunerated for the hours they are working?  

Overtime vs Obsessive Overtime

Overtime refers to the additional hours an employee works beyond their normal working hours. These additional hours are usually paid at a higher rate, known as the overtime rate. 

Under Australian law, most employees who work overtime are entitled to receive additional pay, as set out in the National Employment Standards (NES) under the Fair Work Act 2009. The NES sets out the minimum employment conditions that apply to all employees in Australia covered by the national workplace relations system. 

The overtime rate that an employee is entitled to receive in Australia depends on the applicable award, enterprise agreement or employment contract. The overtime rate may be a flat rate or a percentage of the employee’s ordinary hourly rate. 

So then what is Obsessive Overtime?

That’s when the overtime becomes consistent and reoccurring week in, week out. Overtime can be a necessary part of the job, especially during busy periods or when there are urgent projects that need to be completed. However, when employees are consistently working overtime, it can become an issue. Obsessive overtime can lead to burnout, reduced productivity, and even physical and mental health problems. As an employer, it’s important to manage overtime to ensure your employees’ well-being and maintain a healthy work-life balance.  

How Employers can manage Obsessive Overtime

Understand the root cause

Before you can manage obsessive overtime, it’s important to understand the root cause. There could be a variety of reasons why an employee is working excessive overtime, such as a heavy workload, a lack of resources or training, or even personal reasons such as financial stress or a desire for career progression. Talk to your employees and try to understand why they are working overtime. It could be that there are underlying issues that need to be addressed, such as improving communication or providing additional resources. 

Set realistic expectations

Employees who feel pressured to work overtime to meet unrealistic deadlines or expectations are more likely to burn out. Employers need to set realistic expectations and communicate them clearly to their employees. If deadlines are tight, consider offering additional resources or support to help employees meet them without having to work excessive overtime. 

Encourage work-life balance

Employers should promote work-life balance, providing options like flexible hours and breaks to help employees manage time and recharge.

Monitor overtime hours

Employers should monitor their employees’ overtime hours to ensure they are not working excessively. This can be achieved by setting limits on the number of overtime hours an employee can work per week or month, and tracking these hours. Employers should also keep accurate records of overtime hours to ensure they are paying their employees correctly. 

Provide Support

Employers should provide support to their employees who are working excessive overtime. This could include offering counselling or support services, providing additional resources or training, or even offering time off to recharge. Employers should also be aware of the signs of burnout, such as reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, and changes in behaviour or mood, and take action to address them. 


Obsessive overtime can be harmful to employees’ physical and mental health, and can also impact their productivity and well-being. As an employer, it’s important to manage overtime to ensure your employees’ well-being and maintain a healthy work-life balance. By addressing root causes, setting realistic expectations, promoting work-life balance, monitoring overtime, and offering support, employers aid staff in effective workload management and well-being.

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