Tech workers are doing more overtime and mostly not being paid for this, with organisations urged to recognise the “hidden costs” of overtime, according to a new report.

The Hays Salary Guide for 2023-24, based on a survey of nearly 7,000 organisations and more than 7,300 professionals, reveals that overtime increased for tech workers in 35 per cent of organisations in Australia in the last financial year.

Just 7 per cent of Australian IT companies decreased the amount of overtime worked by their employees in the last year, according to the survey.

It’s important that tech firms ensure any overtime being required by workers is not excessive, Hays Asia Pacific CEO Matthew Dickason said.

“Excessive overtime can negatively impact employees’ physical and mental health and wellbeing,” Dickason said.

“It can lead to stress and burnout, and adversely affect work-life balance, job satisfaction, productivity and staff turnover.

“Unfortunately, perceptions of what constitutes ‘excessive’ overtime can vary from person to person.

“As a result, overtime expectations differ between organisations. We urge employers to recognise the hidden costs of overtime and take a proactive approach to better manage it.”

The majority of overtime that IT workers are completing is unpaid, the research found. Overtime was entirely unpaid in 31 per cent of organisations, while 30 per cent paid non-financially, such as with time in lieu.

The remaining 39 per cent did pay their employees for overtime.

Of the organisations that did see an increase in overtime, 30 per cent reported this increase as being by five hours per week on average, while 36 per cent said it was by between six and 10 hours per week.

The ongoing skills shortage around the country was blamed by more than 60 per cent of organisations as a reason behind the increasing workload for existing staff.

These ever-increasing hours are also contributing to more Australian tech workers looking to leave their current job.

According to the survey, of workers looking to leave their jobs, a quarter cited poor work-life balance as a motivating factor for this, while more than 20 per cent cited negative mental health and wellbeing as impacting this decision.

According to Hays, organisations should look to use tools and software to better track the hours being worked by employees.

Workers should be asked to consider what they define as reasonable overtime, staff should be encouraged to report excessive overtime, and workers should be surveyed regularly in order to combat the negative impacts of overtime.

Last year’s Hays Salary Guide also identified an increase in the amount of overtime IT professionals were working.

It found that half of tech workers who responded to the survey said that overtime had increased in the past year, and just 3 per cent said it had decreased.

While the majority of tech workers reported not being paid for overtime in the last financial year, a recent draft decision by Fair Work Commission could lead to some tech, telecommunications and medical research workers being paid for this extra work.

The draft decision flagged significant changes to the Professional Employees Award, which covers some workers in IT, telecommunications, medical research and quality auditing.

It guides the set hours worked per week by employees on the award and the overtime they complete.

The changes would apply to workers who are receiving the minimum wage under the award, or 25 per cent (or less) more than it, meaning it would likely only impact early-career tech workers on a lower wage than their more senior co-workers.