Work Less For Better Health

February 3, 2017

There’s no doubt the SheBrisbane team work hard and put in the hours where necessary so we were shocked to find that working more than 39 hours a week could be bad for your health, according to a new study.

Researchers from Australian National University used data from 8,000 working adults as part of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey.

An ABC radio report today said the researchers found the work limit for a healthy life should be set at 39 hours a week, rather than the 48-hour week limit set internationally about 80 years ago.

Working beyond 39 hours, the researchers were reported as saying, could not only affect an employee’s physical health but also put workers at risk of developing mental health problems.

Study co-author Professor Lyndall Strazdins, from the Research School of Population Health at the university, said almost a quarter of Australians worked longer than the recommended 39 hours.

The study also found when men and women were considered separately, the healthy work limit was 34 hours per week for women once other commitments were considered.

Professor Strazdins said Australians needed to dispel the widespread belief that people had to work long hours to order do a good job.

“My message is to their managers and our policy makers to start a national debate on how long is too long,” she said.

She said employers must look for ways to support people to work shorter hours.

“And [they shouldn’t] expect that they have to work longer hours to hold down that job,” she said.

The study was published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

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