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Working longer: hours of work and health



It is apparent from the implementation of European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) regulatory measures introduced in order to limit working hours that there is a general awareness of some of the perils associated with excessive work demands. However, it is also evident that any changes to working practices should not have an adverse impact on employee productiveness and organisational and national competitiveness. This review presents evidence highlighting workload, organisational culture, management style and personal drive as the main causes for working longer hours with reported effects on, amongst other things, mental wellbeing, fatigue, sickness absenteeism and employee dissatisfaction. With suggestions of no improvement in working hours for certain professional groups, and only a marginal reduction in average working hours in the UK in general over the last decade, some researchers argue for the firmer implementation of policies as a way of sustaining a healthy and productive workforce. Limitations of this review and implications for policy and practice are presented.
Mental Capital and Mental Wellbeing
Government Office for Science
Version date: 21 September 2007
State-of-Science Review:
Working Longer: Hours of Work and Health
Dr Sabir I. Giga
School of Health Studies, University of Bradford, UK
Dr Ajay K. Jain
Department of Human Behavior and Organizational Development,
Management Development Institute, India
Professor Cary L. Cooper
Management School, Lancaster University, UK
This review has been commissioned as part of the UK Government’s
Foresight project: Mental Capital and Mental Wellbeing. The views expressed
do not represent the policy of any Government or organisation.
It is apparent from the implementation of European Union (EU) and United
Kingdom (UK) regulatory measures introduced in order to limit working hours
that there is a general awareness of some of the perils associated with
excessive work demands. However, it is also evident that any changes to
working practices should not have an adverse impact on employee
productiveness and organisational and national competitiveness.
This review presents evidence highlighting workload, organisational culture,
management style and personal drive as the main causes for working longer
hours with reported effects on, amongst other things, mental wellbeing,
fatigue, sickness absenteeism and employee dissatisfaction. With
suggestions of no improvement in working hours for certain professional
groups, and only a marginal reduction in average working hours in the UK in
general over the last decade, some researchers argue for the firmer
implementation of policies as a way of sustaining a healthy and productive
workforce. Limitations of this review and implications for policy and practice
are presented.
1. Introduction and Scope of Review
This report encompasses a scientific review on the topic of ‘Working Longer:
Hours of Work and Health’ with the objective of informing the UK Government
Office for Science’s Foresight project on Mental Capital and Mental Wellbeing.
The review aims to highlight current understanding of the effects of long
working hours on mental health and wellbeing, as well as envisaging future
trends and key challenges. Although there are inherent overlapping
characteristics, our focus is more on the extent of work rather than the
tangential areas of working patterns, work pace and work-life balance.
Specifically, this review presents an insight into:
Working Time Regulations;
The prevalence of working longer hours in the UK;
The causes and consequences of long working hours;
Future trends and key challenges on working hours and health.
2. Working Time Regulations
Working time has traditionally been determined at the local level through
negotiations between employers and employees, or by collective agreement
with the involvement of employee representatives. This has often led to
discrepancies in employee working hours between colleagues within an
organisation as well as between organisations and sectors, with some
individuals being asked or offering to work substantially more than their
contracted hours without the provision of additional benefits such as overtime
pay. Indeed, although there is evidence of a general decline in the UK of
unpaid overtime, some reports suggest that it may take up to 2030 before the
practice of regular weekly unpaid overtime of more than 10 hours is ended
(TUC, 2007).
The Working Time Regulations (1998) implement provisions from the original
EU-wide Working Time Directive (93/104/EC), which have been subsequently
amended on a regular basis by UK regulations. The EU Working Time
Directive (93/104/EC) requires employers to limit the working week to 48
hours and to ensure that workers get a minimum of 11 hours rest every 24
hours, one day's rest per week and four weeks paid annual leave. The
Working Time Regulations (1998) came into force on 1 October 1998 and are
the main regulations governing working time in the UK, laying down minimum
conditions relating to weekly working hours, night workers, and break and
annual leave entitlement. Fundamentally in terms of the impact on longer
working hours, UK Working Time Regulations (1998) have secured an
exception to the EU wide 48 hour week ruling, with UK employees aged 18
and over being given the choice to voluntarily opt out of this agreement by
way of a written and signed request. There are additional exceptional rules for
some employees such as trainee doctors, young workers and certain workers
in the transport industry. Furthermore, the armed forces, emergency services
and police are excluded in some circumstances, as are jobs where individuals
are free to choose how long they work, e.g. a managing director.
Employees in the UK must be given written particulars of their main terms and
conditions within two months of starting employment, which should state what
hours and working patterns are required for a particular role. Unless
individuals choose to opt-out or work in a sector which has its own specific
rules, most people should not have to work more than an average of 48 hours
a week according to the law (CIPD, 2003).
Working time within UK Working Time Regulations includes:
Normal day-to-day duties as defined within employment contracts
Role related training
Role related travelling time
Time spent working abroad for employees who are normally based in
the UK
'On-call' time at work
Working lunch
Paid / unpaid overtime
Working time within UK Working Time Regulations does not include:
Day-to-day travel to and from work
Breaks such as lunch breaks
Paid or unpaid holiday
Sick, maternity, paternity and adoption leave
Evening and day-release courses
‘On-call’ time away from work
Voluntary unpaid overtime
As evident from the law regulating working hours in the UK, although
regulations have been introduced and are in place to protect employees from
excessive work demands, in reality there are various gaps in this legislation
which allow practices around long working hours to continue.
3. Prevalence of Long Working Hours
Whilst recent government policies have emphasised flexible working options
as a way of improving the balance between employee work and life and as a
consequence health and wellbeing, according to the Economic Social and
Research Council the UK long working hours culture remains the main reason
for dissatisfaction at work (Womack, 2004). There is also evidence to suggest
that workers in the UK work much longer hours, take shorter lunch breaks and
have less holidays than most of their European counterparts (White and
Beswick, 2003; ILO, 2007; TUC, 2007). In particular, the research suggests
Even though legislative measures have been introduced as a way of
protecting employees, average working hours have only marginally
decreased over the last decade in the UK generally. Moreover, closer
scrutiny of the data highlights variations with some regions of the UK
actually experiencing increasing working hours;
Only a third of the working population are aware of Working Time
Approximately a quarter of the UK working population work more than
48 hours a week on average, and approximately 9% of workers report
to working over 60 hours a week.
According to 2003 figures, approximately two out of three people who
report to working 48 hours a week on a regular basis, do so without
opting out of the Working Time Regulations;
One in four employees who have signed an opt-out within the Working
Time Regulations said they were given little or no choice about signing
away their rights;
The majority of employees who work more than 48 hours a week
suggest they would like the opportunity to work fewer hours;
Managers and professionals are most likely to work long hours. Two-
thirds of female employees who work longer hours are in managerial
and professional occupations.
Evidence suggests that there is a rhetoric-reality gap (Visser and Williams,
2006) with a need for organisations to focus more on reducing stress and
pressure rather than simply making flexible work practices available.
Moreover, firmer implementation of policies that target a reduction in working
hours could potentially be a major contributing factor to the prevention of
stress at work, reduction of accidents and the improvement of employee
health and wellbeing (The Mental Health Foundation, 2003; ILO, 2007).
4. Causes and Consequences of Long Working Hours
It should not be assumed that there is a direct or linear relationship between
working long work hours and poor health (Sparks, Cooper, Fried and Shirom,
1997). Moreover, a distinction should be made between working hours and
the pace or intensification of work (Kristensen, Bjorner, Christensen and Borg,
2004). Although some studies suggest that long work hours are related to
negative outcomes such as high job demands, emotional exhaustion and
burnout, marital tension, and work-family conflict, other researchers report a
positive relationship between long work hours and outcomes such as high role
control, superior physical health, and low levels of psychological distress and
anxiety (Sparks et al., 1997; Kristensen et al., 2004; Taris, Beckers,
Verhoeven, Geurts, Kompier and van der Linden, 2006). However, it is well
recognised that stress reduces employee well-being, and that excessive or
sustained work pressure, as would be the case for some employees who are
required to work excessive hours, can lead to negative outcomes. In deed,
according to Head, Martikainen, Kumari, Kuper, and Marmot (2002) the
evidence suggests that there is a higher risk of employees suffering from
psychological health problems if they:
Are required to work at a constant fast pace, or are regularly faced with
conflicting priorities, or
Have low levels of recognition, understanding and support from their
managers, or
Are stressed because they have no control over how their work is
As occupational stress poses a risk to most businesses, with increasing
evidence of the impact on organisations through sickness absenteeism, rising
compensation payments and employee dissatisfaction, it is important to meet
the challenge by dealing with specific issues that could potentially cause
excessive or long-term pressure (Cooper, 1999; Head et al,. 2002).
4.1. What are the Reasons for Working Long Hours?
Increasing pressures at work are highlighted as one of the most fundamental
changes in contemporary society, with rising numbers of employees who work
full-time suggesting that they would like the choice to spend more time at
home. In deed, the long working day and greater workplace demands placed
on individuals are highlighted as the main cause of dissatisfaction for many
employees (Green and Tsitsianis, 2005). Furthermore in addition to working
long hours, recent data suggests that less than half of the workforce actually
use up their full annual leave entitlement and less than two thirds of
employees do not use up their full entitlement to lunch breaks, highlighting
workload pressures and demanding managers as the basis for this (CIPD,
2003). Furthermore, some employees work more than their contracted hours
due to the incessant pressure of their work which prevents them from
completing it within contracted working hours, citing organisational culture,
management style and high levels of personal standards as the main reasons
(CIPD, 2003; TUC, 2007).
Although there is no direct evidence that working longer hours leads to lower
levels of overall work or organisational performance, there are indications
from employees and employers of their concerns about the adverse impact of
long working hours on productivity and quality of output.
Organisations are keen to provide products and services according to
customer needs, including weekends and late nights. As a result patterns of
employment are evidently shifting towards a seven day, twenty four hour
global society. This is supported by data from the UK Labour Force Survey
(2007) which suggests that employees are working increasing levels of
unsocial hours during nights and at weekends.
Recent Labour Force Survey data (March to May 2007) suggests that slightly
over a fifth of people in employment (20.4%) work more than 45 hours a
week. According to Kodz, Davis, Lain, Strebler, Rick, Bates, Cummings and
Meager (2003), this is a relatively high proportion of the workforce in
comparison to European Union norms but is more favourable in comparison
to other developed countries such as Japan and the United States. At 20 days
per annum, the UK workforce is also entitled to less paid leave than the
average European Union workforce but more than their Japanese (17 days)
and the United States (10 days) counterparts.
With full-time managers’ working hours in the UK not significantly differing to
those in the European Union, men aged between 30 and 49 who have
children and work in the private sector work the longest hours in the UK.
Furthermore, long working hours are most common in the manufacturing
industry (Kodz et al., 2003).
Spurgeon, Harrington and Cooper (1997) suggest that longer working hours
could potentially lead to unsafe and inefficient working practices. In deed,
some organisations have a culture of presenteeism where employees are
pressured into arriving early and leaving late, or face the consequence of
being seen as uncommitted. The evidence suggests that there is a link
between working hours and risk of injury, with more than half of injuries and
illnesses related to jobs with longer working hours or overtime (Goldenhar,
Williams and Swanson, 2003; Josten, Ng-A-Tham and Thierry, 2003).
4.2. What are the Consequences of Working Long Hours on
Mental Capital and Mental Wellbeing?
There are clear indications from the literature (e.g. Bunting, 2004; Coats and
Max, 2005) that long working hours and weekend work may cause serious
disruption to family life. However, not all employees who work long hours are
unhappy with their work-life balance or fear that their working life is negatively
impacting on their domestic life. With an increasing number of households in
which both adults work, there may be less opportunity to spend time together
and people may be put under added strain. As a result parents or carers who
adopt such working patterns are more likely than others to report the influence
of work on curtailing involvement in home activities. Working long hours for
both parents is associated with less involvement in children’s activities and
frequent disruption in family life. New forms of work and changing work
practices can penetrate and reshape home lives. The lives of parents and
children are interlinked as are home and work lives. If both parents in a family
are in paid employment, it stands to reason that there will be less time and
energy to participate in other activities. This will of course put people under
added pressure.
When policies are being developed, the multiple perspectives of partners,
fathers, mothers, carers and children need to be considered, as work effects
can ‘spillover’ into home lives and home experiences impinge on work
behaviour and performance (Visser and Williams, 2006).
A recent report by the Mental Health Foundation (2003), suggests that more
than 60% of workers reported to experiencing a negative impact on their
personal lives as a direct consequence of long working hours. Almost half of
those surveyed stated that they had sacrificed physical exercise in order to
work long hours, with similar numbers suggesting that that they had lost out
on spending time with their partners, or sacrificed social activities with friends.
As a result, a number of participants reported to feelings of anxiousness,
depression, and other mental health problems, including attempted suicide.
Although the evidence based is limited to specific sectors and occupational
groups, there are clear indicators from the literature of the negative effect of
working long hours and an increase in health and safety incidents. The
evidence suggests that long hours working, particularly in conjunction with
fatigue and sleep deprivation, have an adverse impact on performance,
including increasing rates of error, intensification of work and negative
interpersonal conflict (Kristensen et al., 2004). Jobs with long working hours
are not more risky simply due to the inherent risky nature of the job.
Moreover, long working hours indirectly cause workplace accidents through
secondary issues such as fatigue and stress, with knock on effects on
colleagues or customers / patients (Bacon, Blyton and Dastmalchan, 2005).
5. So What Do We Need to Consider About Working
Hours in the Future?
The Demands of an Increasingly Diverse Workforce
One might argue that firmer policies, and not so much rhetoric, are
required to ensure that flexible employment is available to serve the
needs of an increasingly diverse workforce, including more options for
working parents, carers, disabled and older people.
Remote Working
The demand for remote working is likely to continue to rise with the
development of technology and communication, and the
implementation of policies to reduce travel congestion. Of course this is
a win-win situation for employers and employees alike if it is managed
properly. However, policy makers at governmental and organisational
levels must also take into account the impact this has on work-life
balance and working hours.
Patterns of Employment
The pattern of employment is likely to continue to change with ever-
increasing demands from customers for seven day, twenty four hour
service requiring people to work unsociable, and perhaps for some
groups of people, longer hours during weekends, evenings and nights.
Competitiveness of UK Economy
Future predictions of the labour market point to a shortage of suitably
qualified younger staff entering the employment marketplace,
suggesting that employers will need to work harder to retain
experienced staff. Organisations should also be aware of the knock on
effects on colleagues of workload arising as a result of absenteeism,
along with the potential loss of human and intellectual capital and costs
associated with retraining new staff.
Increasing Healthcare and Social Security Costs
In terms of absenteeism and early retirement due to ill health, apart
from a host of ethical and moral dilemmas that deserve due
consideration, the business case for controlling working hours include
the increased costs associated with earlier and therefore potentially
longer drawing of pension and social security payments. Moreover, the
situation is made even more complex if we take into consideration the
national and indeed international debate on ageing populations,
coupled with rising pension costs due to longer life-spans and fewer
contributors paying into pension systems due to falling birth rates.
6. Conclusion
Our review of research on working hours and mental wellbeing highlights the
adverse impact of working longer hours on personal happiness, job
satisfaction, workplace accidents, irritability, exhaustion, depression and
relationships. Although there is evidence to suggest that, on the face of it, the
introduction of Working Time Regulations may have had some impact on
curbing excessive demands, some organisational cultures in the UK continue
to expect employees to work excessively long hours. It is also apparent that in
order to dedicate more of their lives to work, people neglect activities that are
known to protect them from the onset of mental health problems (e.g. sports
and exercise).
There is a need for more research into what could be considered optimal
working hours in terms of balancing productivity and wellbeing. There is also a
need to confirm whether the introduction of legislative measures have simply
eradicated long working hours culture or, as is evident from increasing
prevalence rates of work-related stress and bullying, that some managers
have become more subtle when placing demands on employees to increase
their productivity levels.
7. References
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CIPD (2003). Living to Work? London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and
Coats, D. and Max, C. (2005). Healthy Work: Productive Workplaces Why
the UK Needs More Good Jobs. London: The Work Foundation.
Cooper, C. L. (1999). Can We Live with the Changing Nature of Work?
Journal of Managerial Psychology. 14(7/8): 569-572.
Goldenhar, L. M., Williams, L. J., and Swanson, N. G. (2003). Modelling
Relationships between Job Stressors and Injury and Near-Miss Outcomes for
Construction Labourers. Work & Stress. 17(3): 218-240.
Green, F. and Tsitsianis, N. (2005). An Investigation of National Trends in Job
Satisfaction in Britain and Germany. British Journal of Industrial Relations.
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Head, J., Martikainen, P., Kumari, M., Kuper, H., and Marmot, M. (2002).
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and Meager, N. (2003). Working Long Hours: a Review of the Evidence. DTI
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... Individuals with high internal locus of control will perceive job related stress in a positive way and handles the situation in a mature manner (Srivastava, 2009). However, Jain, Giga and Cooper (2009) have found the positive moderating impact of external work locus of control on the relationship of well-being and employees´ commitment. In a stressful condition internals work for good outcomes and they believe that the outcome is a consequence of their actions, on the other hand externals believe that they don't have control the situation and they withdraw themselves to detrimental consequences (Nelson & Quick, 1985). ...
... Similar finding is noted by Collins and Killough (1989), they concluded that "stress in public accounting system stems from an environment that requires employees to work long hours". In a study, Giga, Jain and Cooper (2009) have concluded that long working hours are the major source of job stress. Despite increasing work load, unbalanced reward and recognition, university teachers want to put high effort for the success of university (Houston et al. 2006) which further aggravates the job stress. ...
... Despite the limitations imposed on working hours; some workers have experienced an increase in the average number of hours worked each week (Böheim and Taylor, 2003; Bishop, 2004). Th is may be because a proportion of workers choose to voluntarily opt-out of the 48 hour agreement, with approximately a quarter of the UK working population working more than 48 hours per week and nine per cent working more than 60 hours per week (Giga et al, 2008; Barnard et al, 2004). Bishop (2004) argues that the UK has developed a long working-hours culture in comparison with other EU countries. ...
Hours of work are recognised by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as key indicators of the labour market. The difference between actual and usual hours worked may result from firms using overtime to meet increasing demand or reducing hours to control costs, and as such, could be considered an indicator of labour market flexibility.The Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England pay close attention to the number of hours worked when considering monetary policy decisions as these may be more closely related to changes in demand and output than the level of employment. This is because firms might want to retain staff during periods of lower output growth, or conversely delay recruitment until the need for it is clearly established through a sustained increase in demand. This article describes the different measures of hours data in the UK and investigates how they may be used to analyse the UK labour market.
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(1) Background: Work hours are the basic carrier impacting employees’ work–life experience and organizational performance, and employees have greater anxiety in relation to work hours as new technology requires an increasingly faster work rhythm. However, scientific research on this topic lags far behind the practice, calling to attention the need for research on work hours from the perspective of historical evolution; (2) Methods: The Bibliometric method is used to analyze the 6364 articles and their contained 77 high-frequency keywords related to work hours from the Web of Science published between 1901 and 2017. Additionally, an individual–organization–society integrative perspective was adopted to describe the map changes and theme evolution of work hours; (3) Results and conclusions: The hot spots of research at the organizational level changed significantly around 1990, with the theme of “long work hours” becoming the core issue in recent years. Studies on the individual level have gradually moved from physiological aspects to the issues of burnout and psychological distress. Research topics related to the social level are somewhat loose, and mainly focused on work–life conflict areas. In addition, the cluster analysis based on the high-frequency keywords classifies six research types according to their research themes. Based on these findings, future trends are proposed to provide theoretical and practical reference for future studies.
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Working time is a recurrent topic of study because the nature of work, its content, the conditions under which it is performed and the labour market itself keep changing. This report provides an overview of the recent evolution of working time duration and organisation in the EU and highlights the most important trends and differences between Member States. Through an in-depth analysis of data from the sixth European Working Conditions Survey carried out in 2015, it examines – from a gender and life course perspective – the links between working time patterns, work–life balance and working time preferences, on the one hand, and workers’ health and well-being on the other. Finally, the report explores the extent to which prevailing working conditions and working time patterns in EU Member States are sustainable in the long term.
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This study investigates the direct effect of organisational stress (as measured through ASSET) on organisational citizenship behaviours (OCBs). A sample of 402 operators was taken from business process outsourcing (BPO) organisations located in northern India. The authors hypothesised that there is a negative relationship between organisational stress and OCBs. Results of multiple regression analysis showed that stress had significant negative impact on OCBs. The implications for managers are discussed.
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Construction work is an inherently dangerous occupation and exposure to additional job stressors is likely to exacerbate the level of danger, increasing workers’ risk for injury. Thus, it is important to identify and then reduce worker exposure to extraneous job stressors. This study examines the relationships between a variety of job stressors and injury or near-miss outcomes among construction workers. Self-reported questionnaire data collected from 408 construction labourers (male and female) via telephone interview were analysed using structural equation modelling. A theoretical model was tested whereby work stressors, classified into three groups, could be related, either directly or indirectly through the mediating effects of physical or psychological symptoms/strain, to self-reported injuries and near misses. Ten of the 12 work-related stressors were found to be directly related to either injury or near misses, including: job demands, job control, job certainty, training, safety climate, skill under-utilization, responsibility for the safety of others, safety compliance, exposure hours, and job tenure. Other stressors (i.e. harassment/discrimination, job certainty, social support, skill under-utilization, safety responsibility, safety compliance, tenure in construction) were indirectly related to injuries through physical symptoms or indirectly related to near misses through psychological strain. There was no support for the modelled gender differences. Implications for health and safety on construction sites are discussed.
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During recent years many researchers have criticized the widely used scales on psychological job demands. For instance, they comment that in most cases different types of demand seem to be mixed in one measure. In this paper we analyse the scale on quantitative job demands in the recently developed Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ), with special emphasis on Differential Item Functioning (DIF). DIF refers to basic differences between groups of respondents, which may affect how they respond to questionnaire items. The data material for our study comprised a representative sample of Danish employees. The respondents were categorized into 32 specific jobs according to the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO 1968). We analysed DIF with respect to the respondents’ jobs with logistic regression analyses. These analyses showed that the items used in the original demand scale functioned very differently for different jobs in the population. The conclusion is that scales on quantitative demands are very sensitive to the choice of specific items. If many items on fast work pace and tempo are included in a scale, a number of blue-collar jobs will be identified as high-demand jobs. If, on the other hand, many questions on long working hours and overtime are included, the use of the scale will result in an entirely different picture. This issue has so far received little attention in occupational health psychology. The results have wide theoretical and methodological implications for research on quantitative job demands.
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A study is reported where the introduction of teamworking was accompanied by negotiated changes in working time patterns, involving some employees transferring to a 5-shift, 8-hour pattern, others to a 5-shift, 12-hour pattern. Employee attitude surveys before and after the changes show those moving to 12-hour working much more satisfied with both working time and other changes, compared with those remaining on 8-hour shifts. The creation of extra non-work days was seen as the major advantage of the longer shifts, which compensated for the harder work regime identified under teamworking and the greater rigidity of the 5-shift system. The findings underline the potential significance of working hours for employee support for broader changes in working practices. Possible explanations of why the longer shift pattern met with considerable support at one research site, but failed to gain support at a similar site elsewhere, are also explored.
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The European Community Directive on Working Time, which should have been implemented in member states of the European Community by November 1996, contains several requirements related to working hours, including the right of employees to refuse to work more than 48 hours a week. The United Kingdom government attempted to oppose the Directive, arguing that there is no convincing evidence that hours of work should be limited on health and safety grounds. Much of the research in this area has focused on the problems of shiftworking and previous reviews have therefore tended to emphasise this aspect of working hours. However, there is much less information about the effects of overtime work, which is a central element of the terms of the Directive. This paper reviews the current evidence relating to the potential effects on health and performance of extensions to the normal working day. Several gaps in the literature are identified. Research to date has been restricted to a limited range of health outcomes--namely, mental health and cardiovascular disorders. Other potential effects which are normally associated with stress--for example, gastrointestinal disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and problems associated with depression of the immune system, have received little attention. Also, there have been few systematic investigations of performance effects, and little consideration of the implications for occupational exposure limits of extensions to the working day. Existing data relate largely to situations where working hours exceed 50 a week and there is a lack of information on hours below this level, which is of direct relevance to the European Community proposal. Finally, it is clear from investigations relating to shiftwork that a range of modifying factors are likely to influence the level and nature of health and performance outcomes. These include the attitudes and motivation of the people concerned, the job requirements, and other aspects of the organisational and cultural climate. It is concluded that there is currently sufficient evidence to raise concerns about the risks to health and safety of long working hours. However, much more work is required to define the level and nature of those risks.
A quantitative and qualitative review of existing literature on working hours and health was carried out. Meta-analyses were performed on 21 study samples. Results indicated small, but significant positive mean correlations between overall health symptoms, physiological and psychological health symptoms, and hours of work. Qualitative analysis of 12 other studies supported these findings of a positive relationship between hours of work and ill-health. Different factors which may obscure the relationship between health and hours of work are discussed, together with other moderating influences. Taking these into account it is proposed that the results of the meta-analyses together with the qualitative analysis offer support for a link between hours of work and ill-health.
The present study addressed the associations among various indicators of effort expenditure at work and recovery opportunities (perceived job demands and job control, hours worked overtime, hours worked according to one's contract), work – home interference, and well-being (exhaustion and enjoyment) in a cross-sectional study among 117 male and 82 female managers. Drawing on effort-recovery theory, we expected that high job demands, low job control, a high number of hours worked overtime, and a full-time appointment would be associated with high levels of work – home interference, low levels of enjoyment, and high levels of exhaustion. Stepwise regression analysis largely supported the hypothesis that high job demands and low job control are associated with adverse work outcomes. However, the effects of the number of hours worked overtime and according to one's contract were usually weak and insignificant, suggesting that high effort expenditure does not necessarily have adverse health consequences.
Work is increasingly changing into a short-term contract culture, with long hours, intrinsic job insecurity and declining sense of loyalty by employees to their employer. The costs of this to employee health, the family and ultimately the “bottom line” are great. A time for reflection is needed in the way we manage people’s careers and futures.
Several authors have claimed that 12-hour shifts in nursing are better for both employees and patient care. However, although the research has found positive effects on satisfaction with working hours and free time, the effects on employee fatigue, health and performance have mostly been neutral or negative. Work schedules should preferably be beneficial for satisfaction, fatigue, health and performance. This study therefore investigated whether shifts that are extended only slightly can combine the positive effects of the 12-hour shift with the positive effects of the 8-hour shift. The study investigated the effects of 9-hour shifts. A total of 134 nurses from three nursing homes in the Netherlands completed a questionnaire on fatigue, health, performance and satisfaction. One group worked 8-hour shifts, and the other worked 9-hour shifts. Nurses who worked 9-hour shifts were on average more fatigued, had more health complaints, and were less satisfied with their working hours and free time than those who worked 8-hour shifts. Their performance was slightly poorer. About 70% to 80% of the 8- and 9-hour nurses preferred to work a maximum of 8 hours during morning/early and afternoon/late shifts. The 9-hour shift seemed to combine the negative aspects of the 12-hour shift with the negative aspects of the 8-hour shift. It is suggested that the 9-hour shift had more negative effects than the 12-hour shift because: (1) nurses could not choose what shift length they worked; (2) many worked part-time; and (3) they already had many days off. It is also suggested that increases in workload since the 1980s make current extended shifts in nursing more fatiguing.
Trends in job satisfaction in Britain and Germany are described, and potential explanations investigated. Contrary to what might be expected from popular commentary, changing job insecurity does not explain the fall in job satisfaction in either country. It is found that intensification of work effort and declining task discretion account for the fall in job satisfaction in Britain. In Germany there was a modest fall in the proportion of people working the number of hours that they wanted to. However, while working too many or too few hours is a significant source of job dissatisfaction, the changes were too small to account for the fall in job satisfaction. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2005.