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Britain – a nation of workaholics part 2


StressedThe CIPD questioned 1666 workers and found that the proportion of those who work more than forty eight hours a week has increased from one in 10 to one in four during the past five years.

More than a quarter of long hours workers say that long hours have affected their sex lives and the relationship with their children (27% in both cases). A higher proportion say that long hours "get in the way of" their relationship with their partner or spouse (43%).

Mike Emmott, CIPD head of employee relations says, "There is little support from the survey for arguments that the current option for employees to opt out from the 48 hour week should be removed. Half of those who work long hours say they do so entirely as a result of their
own choice. They are just as satisfied as other people with their lives inside and outside work. More than half are either managers or professionals who should be well placed to exercise informed choices about their hours.

The report also indicates that the average working week for women has increased by three and half hours to its current level of 33.9. The average working week for all workers stands at 39.6 hours, slightly up on figures for 1998.

Emmott continued: "The overall trend in working hours among female workers is upwards. This is not however necessarily bad news. Relatively few of those working long hours
are women. If efforts to secure equal treatment for women at work are to bear fruit we can expect to see their experience of work and working patterns aligned more closely with those of men.

Comparing the results with the 1998 survey we can conclude that the impact of the government's campaign on work-life balance has had little or no effect to date. However, almost one in four employees have cut back their hours in the past five years, the main reason being because of parenthood.

The report also argues that working time is ill-suited to legislative control given that so little attention is paid to the working time regulations, which provide an opt-out clause for those working more than 48 hours.

Emmott continued, "The negative effects of working long hours are increasingly recognised. Most long hours workers report some kind of negative effect on job performance, one in four report damaging effects on their mental health in terms of stress or depression and many claim that long hours have put their relationships and health under strain.
Clearly there can be important downsides to working consistently long hours and employers and employees both need to be aware of them.

Related items:Britain – a nation of workaholics

The CIPD website address is


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