A healthy work limit is 39 hours per week, study shows

February 2, 2017 by Will Wright
Professor Lyndall Strazdins. Credit: Stuart Hay, ANU

People who work more than 39 hours a week are putting their health at risk, new research from The Australian National University (ANU) has found.

The research shows the work limit for a 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 Australians in full-time employment worked more than 40 hours a week, with long hours a bigger problem for women who do more at home.

"Long work hours erode a person's mental and physical , because it leaves less time to eat well and look after themselves properly," Dr Dinh said.

For women, Dr Dinh said the healthy work limit was 34 hours per week once their other commitments were considered. The healthy work limit for men was up to 47 hours a week generally because they spend much less time on care or domestic work than women.

"Despite the fact that women on average are as skilled as men, women on average have lower paid jobs and less autonomy than men, and they spend much more time on care and domestic work," Dr Dinh said.

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

The research used data from about 8,000 Australian adults as part of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey.

Co-researcher Professor Lyndall Strazdins from the ANU Research School of Population Health 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. Australians also need to dispel the widespread belief that people need to long hours to do a good job," she said.

Explore further: 1 in 5 people don't have time to look after their health

More information: Huong Dinh et al. Hour-glass ceilings: Work-hour thresholds, gendered health inequities, Social Science & Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.01.024

Related Stories

1 in 5 people don't have time to look after their health

November 28, 2016
One in five people aged 25 to 54 years old don't have time to exercise and eat healthy food, a new study led by ANU has found.

Going home on time can benefit workers' health

November 18, 2014
Public health researchers at the University of Adelaide say office workers can benefit themselves and their families by going home on time as much as possible, to reduce work-related illness.

Working women more likely to gain weight

July 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Middle-aged women who spend long hours working are more at risk of gaining weight, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

One e-cigarette with nicotine leads to adrenaline changes in nonsmokers' hearts

September 20, 2017
A new UCLA study found that healthy nonsmokers experienced increased adrenaline levels in their heart after one electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) with nicotine but there were no increased adrenaline levels when the study ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.