Women’s health most at risk from long working hours, says 30-year study
Women who put in long hours for the bulk of their careers risk life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Work weeks that averaged 60 hours or more over three decades appear to triple the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis for women, according to new research drawing on a 30 year study.
This chimes with a wide body of earlier research showing that significant negative health effects of long hours are found for hours above 48, with the risks becoming acute at around 60 hours per week.
This news should be a trigger for action in the UK. There is a pressing need to strengthen the law so that workers are not put in harms way, particularly since a range of evidence shows that many work long hours because they are under pressure from their employers.
There is significant cause for concern because the number of women employees working long hours is increasing Economic recovery has seen the number of UK employees of both sexes working more than 48 hours per week increase from 3.0 million in 2010 to 3.5 million by the end of 2015.
So long hours working has increased by 17% in the past 5 years, but the number of women working more than 48 hours per week has increased much faster, by 26.7%.
Of course, we should be most concerned about those facing the most severe risks. The government should look again at excessive hours, and the 116,000 women employees now regularly working more than 60 hours are likely to be most at risk.