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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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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