How much unpaid work are you doing exactly?

How much unpaid work are you doing exactly?

By Cassandra Charlesworth

Whip out the excel spreadsheet and start tallying up those unpaid chores, because a recent study on behalf of the Victorian Government illustrates how unpaid work saves the economy billions; and by large, women are the ones shouldering the load.

In early July, Deloitte released a report that noted Victorian women do on average 32.9 hours of unpaid work each week, while men put in 19.8. Together it would otherwise cost the economy $205.58 billion or the equivalent of 50 per cent of gross state product.

While Victoria might have been the state under the microscope, chances are the statistics ring true across the nation, so what are women so busy doing for no financial reward?

A whole lot of caring

The lengthy list of chores women undertake each week likely comes as no surprise. Domestic chores top the list with all that cooking, washing, wiping, cleaning, tidying and general household labour adding up to 20.8 hours weekly.

Caring for kids comes in at second place with 9.3 hours spent looking after children.

In the free time we have after caring for children, women care for others, spending on average 1.8 hours each week looking after the elderly, ill or people with disabilities. That’s particularly the case for women over 55 who are more likely to be caring for the elderly and ill, and average 5.1 hours doing so.

Chances are there’s also a little extra community work on the side, with a further hour spent putting in some hard yards at the canteen, on a sports committee or in charities and volunteering.

Women versus men

It also comes as little surprise that women do 13.1 hours more unpaid work each week on average than men.

In Victoria, men clocked up 19.8 hours a week doing chores like:

·       Household and domestic work – 13.5 hours

·       Caring for children – 4 hours

·       Caring for the elderly, ill or people with disabilities – 1.3 hours

·       Volunteer work – 1 hour

An area where men specifically bear the brunt of the unpaid labour load is outdoor work.

When it comes to weekly outdoor tasks like emptying the bins and mowing the lawn, men do 3.4 hours more of that per week than women.

Women doing more work overall than men

Although the statistics have levelled out a lot more in recent years, the report does indicate men are still likely to do more paid work than women, clocking up an additional 8.7 hours in the workforce each week.

But still when you put together both paid and unpaid work, women are doing more of the grunt work overall, and for far less financial reward

Four working months without pay

Meanwhile, all that unpaid work for women takes a large toll over the course of the year.

The ABC analysed the report and found women put in around 681 more hours than men doing unpaid hours each year.

“Assuming an average working day is eight hours long, five days a week, that represents a difference of about 85 working days or four whole working months a year of unpaid work and care.”

So go on, we know you’ve been busy, but tell us about your weekly workload of unpaid labour. And yes, running those forgotten library books into school absolutely counts.

Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer with 20 years’ journalism experience. She loves a good old-fashioned story and getting to the heart of a great yarn. She’s also a mum to three children who have encouraged her to hone some secret skills. Nimbly navigating Lego pieces left on her lounge room floor and creating stylish Barbie attire from all manner of household objects are just a couple of credentials she’s recently added to her resume.

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