ARE YOU RISKING YOUR HEALTH BY WORKING TOO LONG?

ANU research shows we need to scale back

ARE YOU RISKING YOUR HEALTH BY WORKING TOO LONG?

By Renee Bogatko, Image Credit – stokkete/123rf.com

The standard work week is roughly 37.5 hours right?

But how much of us ACTUALLY work that?

For many, that creeps into the 40’s, 50’s and so on.

Well, looks like we all need to take a step back!

New research from the ANU shows people who work more than 39 hours a week are putting their health at risk.

The research also suggests the work limit for a healthy life should be set at 39 hours a week instead of the 48-hour-week limit set internationally about 80 years ago.

Lead researcher Dr Huong Dinh from the ANU Research School of Population Health said about two in three Aussies in full-time employment worked more than 40 hours a week, with long hours a bigger problem for women who do more unpaid work at home.

“Long work hours erode a person’s mental and physical health, because it leaves less time to eat well and after after themselves properly,” Dr Dinh said.

Dr Dinh said the healthy work limit for women was 34 hours per week once their other commitments were taken into account.

For men on the other hand, the work limit was up to 47 hours a week because they spend less time on care or domestic work at home.

“Given the extra demands placed on women, it’s impossible for women to work long hours often expected by employers unless their compromise their health,” Dr Dinh said.

The data was collected from about 8,000 Aussies who took part in the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey.

Co-researcher Professor Lyndall Strazdins said Australia needed to resolve some of the bigger problems that affect work and home life balance.

“Australia needs to do more to change attitudes to work and to support men to take time to care without penalty or prejudice,” she said.

“Australians also need to dispel the widespread belief that people need to work long hours to do a good job.”

The research is published in Social Science & Medicine.

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