If you feel like one of those hard-done-by office heroes who stays behind to finish the day's work at no additional renumeration, today could be the first day of the rest of your life.

That's because today is the tenth annual "go home on time day" and, although it sounds like one of those ridiculous made-up days to mark something weirdly specific, there's a good reason behind it.

To mark the special occasion, the Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work has revealed a bunch of statistics that are guaranteed to make the stay-laters among you furious.

It shows Australian employees will rack up 3.2 billion hours of unpaid overtime for their employers this year, worth an estimated A$106 billion ($112.8b) in foregone wages.

Advertisement

A national survey shows the average Australian worker now puts in six hours of unpaid overtime per week, which equates to working an extra two months for free every year. That's an increase from 5.1 hours on average in last year's survey.

"Australians are working more unpaid overtime than ever before, and they're paying a high price for it," Centre for Work economist Troy Henderson said.

"Time theft takes many forms, including employees staying late, coming in early, working through their lunch or other breaks, taking work home on evenings and weekends or being contacted to perform work out of hours.

"Most Australians wouldn't dream of working for two months without pay. But it's spread out over the whole year, and has become part of the implicit expectations of too many jobs. 'Time theft' has thus become endemic across the whole labour market."

And, since it's go home on time day, Henderson has a particular piece of advice for those looking at their workload for today.

"Today we ask that all Australians go home on time and try to limit the unpaid overtime they work," he said.

"And stopping time theft is ultimately the responsibility of employers and government, too, not just individual workers: employers must value and respect the leisure time of workers, and recognise that work cannot take over our entire lives."

The survey shows that even part-time and casual workers are being asked to work unpaid overtime — averaging over four hours per week for part-timers and almost three hours per week for casuals.

"Given the problem of underemployment and precarious work in today's labour market, it is especially unfair that part-time and casual workers are being pressured to work for free," Henderson added.

This year's go home on time day survey also included a special questionnaire on the use of digital surveillance and monitoring in Australian workplaces.

About 70 per cent of respondents said their employers use at least one form of digital surveillance or monitoring, including cameras, GPS tracking, monitoring internet or social media activity or counting keystrokes, to monitor employees — and sometimes to discipline or even dismiss them.

"Technology can have a strong positive effect in the workplace, but our research shows it is also being used in ways that increase pressure on employees and reduce the level of trust in workplaces," Henderson said.

"It's clear from our research that millions of Australians are losing out to time theft. Both underemployed workers, and those who work too much, are giving up their precious time for free. All Australian workers have the right to go home on time."