Study: Working More Than 39 Hours A Week Harmful To Mental Health

CANBERRA, Australia — Employers take note: having your staff work overtime could be doing more harm than good. A new study finds that working more than 39 hours a week is actually detrimental to one’s health.

Published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, researchers from Australian National University compiled previously-released government data from about 8,000 employed Australian men and women aged 24 to 64. 

The researchers found on average that 40 or more hours of work a week — typically considered full-time employmentcan lead to mental health issues. This was especially true when combined with other commitments.

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

In large part due to additional time constraints, such as caregiving, it was found that the average healthy work limit for women was only 34 hours a week. For men, the limit was found to be as high as 47 hours a week.

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

This study helps shatter a widely-held belief that it is healthy to work up to 48 hours a week. That theory based upon an 80-year-old standard set by the International Labour Organization.

One conclusion that can be taken from the study is that women are disadvantaged in many senses in the workforce. Since they cannot work for as many hours without compromising their health, men often get better and higher paying positions.

In Australia, over 40% of employed individuals work 40-plus hours a week.

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    1. News flash to “Radio Rick” : Men and women are different. They are not equal. Therefore their pay should not be equal either.

    1. Agreed. I regularly work 60+ hours per week and I’m just fine. I enjoy money! Sounds like a bunch of wimpy nonsense if you ask me.

  1. This article might be considered “fake” or a snowflake scenario. One has to wonder who paid them for their “opinion”.

  2. Work is detrimental to leisure time health. Sloths are not known to be happy, they just exist without emotion. I’ve always enjoyed leisure more after laborious work than after idleness.

  3. That’s why I only do about 5 hours of actual work in an 8 hour workday…

    My manager was shocked when I turned down a lead role (no additional pay, just the “prestige”) in our group.

    I’ve worked my @ss off these past 56 years and could retire now, but I’m just gonna coast until I’m 60, or they fire me. Either way, I don’t care.

      1. Read more carefully he’s gonna “coast until I’m 60” that means he probably started working his @ss off shortly after leaving the womb!

  4. Just one more stupid study.
    Tell the results to the millions of our parents who often worked 2 jobs to support us.
    People’s mental health is in my considered opinion degraded by the Media we all have access to today.
    Heck, today I read that Vegetable oil is now linked to dementia. Tomorrow that will be overturned by some other study.
    Work as much as you want to, eat what you want to, drink what you want to.
    Life is short, and worrying about everything under the sun will degrade your mental capacity.

    1. Terrible advice! Everything should be in moderation, that is how you keep your mind and body healthy which enables healthy social relationships… This article points towards some of the issues with our current lifestyle, it’s showing insustainability.

      1. Gosh, when I retired at 65, I was working 12 hours a day on average.
        I’ve been married to my first and only wife for 45 years. I worked similar hours my entire working life. I rode my bike for 50 miles on my 50th birthday. I walk 3 to 5 miles every day since retirement. I eat what I want, sleep when I want, drink what I want, am healthy as a horse. I have many friends, and frankly don’t find my advice terrible.
        The runway doesn’t get longer infoman, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

        1. Problem with that concept is that you’re obviously an exception, not everyone is built like you. Bravo to your life being gifted in that respect, but there are many people who have diabetes because their genetics were triggered from environmental stress, are you going to tell them to eat and drink as much as they want when that might just kill them that moment? Or are you advocating YOLO? So with your advice it’s even OK for people to drink, do drugs, and have as much unprotected sex with as many people just because it is fun and merry until they die from either liver cancer, brain damage, or some serious transmitted diseases? Every individual handles work-load differently, exceptions like yourself can work 12 hours, ride a bike 50 miles and probably sleep 3 hours and keep on ticking, but that doesn’t automatically mean that everyone can. This article is taking a study for the average individual, do some more research because most people don’t have a career, most people who work have an over taxing job or two just to make ends meet, which destroys their mental health, their social relationships, and their very merry life.

    2. I stopped working as a registered nurse because of the 12.5 hrs a night, which typically turned into 13, by the time reports are given and charting is completed . The shift is too long and demanding, caring for seriously ill people. 40 hours is okay, as long as they are eight hours a day.

  5. Horsefeathers! In the real, but quickly disappearing world, more than 40 hours should mean extra money.
    I haven’t heard of anyone suffering negative effects from the self-confidence derived from making a contribution to your employer, or from the sense of well-being resulting from being better situated financially. If you can’t handle more than a full-time job mentally, you’ve got problems to begin with.

  6. Long hours is unhealthy if you hate your job. I run my own business, love what I do and feel happy at the end of most days!
    Stop generalizing and coming across as “an authority”. Get a job you are truly happy in and you’ll come up with a different result.

    1. Are you suggesting that anyone who doesn’t have a job in their adult life is mentally ill? Strange assertion.

  7. 40+ for everyone. America has always been, until the Obama ERA, a country that worked and achieved and prospered and we all worked the number of hours it took. That’s why we are great and the rest of the world bitches about having to work.

  8. I haven’t done a lick of paid work of any kind since July 16, 1999… I’m doing just fine! Work?? You mean like, you have to do something for the money? Ewww, gross. Like totally.

  9. I am happier if I can work at or below a 30-35 hour week. Since most times as the lady of the house I go home and work some more.. Cleaning, Groceries, meals, laundry, etc etc etc. So, even if I work fewer hours where I get a paycheck does not mean I am just cruising when I get home. I do think working is good for the brain. I would be bored if I was not working at least 3-4 days a week and I feel keeping the mind healthy means using it! and I like my paycheck!! I do think it is terrible to expect people to work in excess of 40 hours a week 100% of the time. I work extra when it is needed. I am very lucky I haev a great boss and a fantastic company and position in the hospitality field- Finance area #MAGA

  10. Farmers work many more hours than 40 milk the cows, feed the animals, Raise crops. Growing season is very busy. Their work is never done.

  11. It’s like this went and Drudge and people decided to comment without reading the article. Weird. If they had read it, most of them would agree.

    1. As with all leftie logic (and agendas, as this article is in support of) your argument is fallacious.

      The problem you have with Drudge and similar is (likely) that the readers DO read the articles, and see right through the obvious attempts to further a socialist or statist agenda.

  12. I want to know how many of these people were on Farm or was this just limited to City people. Farm people work more than 40 hours a week and they seem to have the best health so is this a Fact or just part of the Fake/Partial Truth News of the world

  13. “Since they cannot work for as many hours without compromising their health, men often get better and higher paying positions.”
    – Wrong. Employers don’t hire employees and pay them because they can work without getting sick.

    “In large part due to additional time constraints, such as caregiving, it was found that the average healthy work limit for women was only 34 hours a week. For men, the limit was found to be as high as 47 hours a week.”
    – So this is setting up a call for “equal pay for equal work” to mean that women working 34 hours should earn the same as men working 47 hours in the same job?
    – What about women that do not “caregive”? They do exist.

  14. Benjamin Franklin retired at age 42. I retired at age 48. My last job involved working three days per week for 36 hours and having four days off. Work is good but not the whole meaning of life. I am for a five day week. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and six weeks per month. That means that there would be 18 days of work and more people would have jobs. Every month would have a Friday the 13th, during which we could have a ball. Party on..Therion

  15. What a bunch of bullshit I worked over 80 hours most of my life at times went days without sleep. Retired at age 59 and am now 80 I pedal 7 miles on a bike in 20 minutes 3 times a week along with weights eat what I want along with drink. What you morons are doing is making candy asses out of the generations that are young and being born. Get a life and find something useful to do. You definitely are not earning your keep!!!!! Of course being in Oz I realize that most of the time your heads are below your asses.

  16. Work 0 hours a week, live off welfare and other people’s hard work and tax dollars, be extremely relaxed and happy, and keep over taxing and tormenting the hard working people until they stress out and their health deteriates. Sounds like a believable study to me.

  17. I’ve read so much about the bad effects of smoking drinking, sex and over-eating that I’ve decided to give up reading- Trivet Kitschy

  18. Something many commenters are missing is that these numbers are just averages. It is reasonable to assume that there are many factors that will cause variation in these numbers between individuals. Probably a very important factor is how much stress is created by working longer hours, and in turn the amount of stress depends upon things like whether or not the person is being rewarded for the longer hours or whether the person’s ability to manage life outside of work is compromised by the long hours. So for example, a young single entrepreneur working 70 hours/week building a business might handle the extra hours much better than a parent on salary who is stuck working after hours due to either their own of managements incompetence.

  19. A link to the actual study would make examining the details and biases easier.

    Like most articles about studies, this short summary of possibly only the abstract of the study is Mr. Steingold’s non-expert interpretation of what he read.

    I’m guessing that many readers could offer words of wisdom that came to them free, not paid for by other people’s money taken from them by government.

    Such as: Work as long as it makes you happy and make time for those people and things you love.

    If you find that advice better than the study’s conclusions then elect a government that will get out of your pocket and let you keep your own money and spend it in ways that make YOU happy.

  20. I’m an entrepreneur and have a great lifestyle working only 25 hours a week. The rest of the time is spent with family, kitesurfing, taking classes and working out. I couldn’t be happier. Moreover, employees at my company work only four 8 hours days and are paid similar to other ‘full-time’ positions in their field. We have very low turn-over and can hire top talent because we value our employees free time and well being.

    Those who claim to work 40 plus hour weeks are likely only productive for a fraction of those hours and have few personal interests they vigourslly persue. (Coming up in the tech world I saw far too many 50+ hour workers who spent at least 20 hours a week on Facebook, browsing the web, etc.)Often these overworks lack originality when it comes to design and other skills. Thus I tend to hire people who might not have gone to the best schools but who have done interesting things. I look for intangible talents that make our teams more creative and effective while providing great life-work balance. The old school work culture of our forebears is not healthy, nor effective in the modern world

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