Sole traders slash working hours

Sole traders, traditionally seen as the hardest workers in the business world, have cut their working hours back more than any other group in the last 10 years, new research suggests.


Bankwest’s Working Times Report found that there has been a three-hour drop in the average working hours of sole traders in the last decade, down to 40.8 hours a week.


The drop, albeit off a large base, is the largest of any group surveyed for the report, which found that average hours worked by all Australians has fallen to 34.1 hours a week, down 1.3 hours in the last 10 years.


Ian Corfield, CEO of Bankwest business, told StartupSmart: “The fall in hours for sole traders is from a pretty high base. But it looks like a lot of sole traders balanced the books by putting on more hours during the GFC and then moved back on that.”


“We recognise that a lot of people put in a lot of hours when establishing a business, but the trend is moving down.”


Business owners are still working far longer hours than their employees, according to Bankwest, with 34% working more than 60 hours a week. However, this has dropped by 5% in the last 10 years.


Overall, business owners work an average of 50.7 hours a week, down from 53.3 hours in 2000. Meanwhile, employees now work 40.8 hours a week, down from 41.6 hours.


The research, sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, found that full timers had scaled down their hours and that an increase in part-timers had contributed to the overage average dropping.


Part-time workers now account for 30% of the workforce, up from 27% in 2000, while employment has risen by 24% in the last decade.

Those working in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector worked the longest hours, an average of 50.9 a week, while those involved in public administration and safety worked the least, at 36.8 hours.


Corfield says: “With things like BlackBerrys and laptops, people can work at home, but there’s also been a change in attitude that workers and bosses want more work/life balance.”


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