Researchers call to end long work hours for Australians

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Office workers and shoppers walk through Sydney's central business district in Australia, September 7, 2016.
Office workers and shoppers walk through Sydney's central business district in Australia, September 7, 2016. Reuters/Jason Reed

New study led by Australian National University has found that working for more than 39 hours a week can cause mental and physical health issues. In regard to this, researchers are calling to end long hours of work for Australians for the sake of their well-being.

Researchers have studied the working lifestyle of 7,890 adults, with 3,830 men and 4,060 women aged from 24 to 64. The study has led them to conclude that 40 percent of Australians who spend over 40 hours at work every week are experiencing negative mental conditions.

“Our findings showed that on average, the maximum number of hours that can be worked before mental health starts to suffer is 39 hours,” the study’s authors wrote. The authors have explained that a person’s mind is eroded after long work hours because busy people do not have much time to eat well and look after themselves properly.

Since such is the case, researchers believe that employers in Australia need to comply with a work hour limit. “Australian businesses need to adhere to a healthy work hour limit for the mental health of workers,” the authors wrote.

The right amount of work to be done in a daily basis is different for men and women. The female population must only work for 34 hours a week if they also have domestic work. Researchers believe that the amount of time left would be sufficient “to take into account the amount of caring work women do at home.”

Ideal work hour limit for men is 47 hours. It gives men a 13-hour time advantage mainly because they do not spend as much time as women in domestic work.

But it was also clarified that both men and women can work up to 48 hours weekly as long as they do not have care responsibilities. But anyone, regardless if you are a man or woman, who has domestic work needs to follow the ideal work hour limit to prevent a likely health trade-off.

International Labour Organization (ILO) set the work week limit to 48 hours per week over 80 years ago. By that time, most paid jobs were appointed to men.

National Employment Standards has most recently mandated 38 weekly hours of work, which employees in the land down under have to recognise. However, data from the Bureau of Statistics shows that 5 million of Australia's 7.7 million full-time workers put in more than 40 hours per week.