Category Archives: Hours of Work

Still falling short on hours and pay: Part-time work becoming new normal

Source: Lonnie Golden, Economic Policy Institute, December 5, 2016

From the summary:
What this report finds: An ongoing structural shift toward more intensive use of part-time employment by many employers is driving the elevated rate of involuntary part-time work. Over six years into an economic recovery, the share of people working part time because they can only get part-time hours remains at recessionary levels. The number working part time involuntarily remains 44.6 percent higher than it was in 2007. This growth is being driven mainly by a few industries.

Why it matters: 6.4 million workers want full-time jobs but are working only part-time hours. Involuntary part-time workers are not only earning less income than they would prefer, but suffer because part-time jobs offer relatively lower wage rates and benefit coverage, and have more variable and unpredictable work schedules.

How we can fix the problem: In addition to traditional expansionary policies that would heighten demand for more hours of labor, here are seven policies that would help curb the excessive use of part-time employment and address the harmful effects of involuntary part-time working.
Press release

Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement

Source: Brian C. Tefft, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, December 2016

From the summary:
Previous research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has estimated as many as 7% of all crashes, 13% of crashes that result in hospital admission, and 21% of fatal crashes involve driver drowsiness. However, the relationship between specific measures of sleep deprivation and crash risk has not been quantified in the general driving population. The results of this study indicate that drivers who usually sleep for less than 5 hours daily, drivers who have slept for less than 7 hours in the past 24 hours, and drivers who have slept for 1 or more hours less than their usual amount of sleep in the past 24 hours have significantly elevated crash rates. The estimated rate ratio for crash involvement associated with driving after only 4-5 hours of sleep compared with 7 hours or more is similar to the U.S. government’s estimates of the risk associated with driving with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or slightly above the legal limit for alcohol in the U.S.
Fact Sheet
Slide Show

Impact of Sleep on Crash Risk

Work–Family Balance and Alternative Work Schedules: Exploring the Impact of 4-Day Workweeks on State Employees

Source: Lori L. Wadsworth, Rex L. Facer, Public Personnel Management, Vol. 45 no. 4, December 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In 2008, the State of Utah implemented a 4-day workweek for their employees. This article examines the impact on employees using a postimplementation survey. For employees on the 4-day schedule, there were no significant differences by gender on work–family balance or on the impact of the schedule. However, women did demonstrate slightly more positive attitudes toward the 4-day schedule. Employees with children at home reported lower work–family balance and greater impact of the 4-day schedule. In contrast, no difference in attitudes toward the 4-day schedule was found by age, although work–family balance differed among age groups. There were differences in work–family balance between employees on the 4-day schedule and those on traditional schedules; however, the more substantial factor was whether an employee selected his or her schedule. The current study highlights the importance of engaging employees when making significant organizational changes, such as transitioning from traditional work schedules to alternative schedules.

How Night Shifts Perpetuate Health Inequality – Methods for approaching them as safely as possible

Source: James Hamblin, The Atlantic, October 20, 2016

….Night shifts are a health hazard in either case, but for different reasons.

Would it be better not to keep throwing your body back and forth from diurnal to nocturnal? Cleveland Clinic, for one, tells patients both to “avoid frequently rotating shifts,” and also to “decrease the number of night shifts worked in a row.”

What? That’s scary if you have to work nights. Newly discovered health risks of working night shifts keep coming out: higher risks of coronary artery disease, diabetes, weight gain, and some cancers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has listed night shifts as “probably carcinogenic.” Among people who’ve worked a decade of shift work, their brains show cognitive decline years in advance.

But these findings are almost always in people who do shift work—bouncing back and forth between nights and days. There’s even something called Shift Work Sleep Disorder (or Shift Work Disorder), defined by increased accidents, work-related errors, irritability, or mood problems…..

Schedule instability and unpredictability and worker and family health and wellbeing

Source: Daniel Schneider, Kristen Harknett, Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Working paper series, September 2016

From the abstract:
The American labor market is increasingly unequal, characterized by extraordinary returns to work at the top of the market but rising precarity and instability at the bottom of the market. In addition to low wages, short tenure, few benefits, and non­standard hours, many jobs in the retail and food service industries are characterized by a great deal of instability and unpredictability in work schedules. Such workplace practices may have detrimental effects on workers. However, the lack of existing suitable data has precluded empirical investigation of how such scheduling practices affect the health and wellbeing of workers and their families. We describe an innovative approach to survey data collection from targeted samples of service­ sector workers that allows us to collect previously unavailable data on scheduling practices and on health and wellbeing. We then use these data to show that exposure to unstable and unpredictable schedules is negatively associated with household financial security, worker health, and parenting practices.

Why a four-day workweek is not good for your health

Source: Allard Dembe, The Conversation, September 2, 2016

….Many employers and employees love the thought of a four-day workweek. Supposedly, a four-day work schedule allows workers extra time to pursue leisure activities and family togetherness. Spurred on by visions of spending more time at the beach, many people are now encouraging businesses to adopt this kind of work plan.

There are many purported advantages. Some authorities say that a four-day work schedule facilitates the ability to provide child care and assistance for the elderly.

Proponents of such “compressed” work schedules − those in which employees work longer hours for fewer days of the week – point to gains in productivity that result from decreased overhead costs, such as not having to keep the lights on when nobody is working. Additional cost savings can be obtained from reducing total weekly commuting time…..

….This is an issue in which I have considerable experience. I have been studying the health effects of long working hours for nearly 30 years. All the studies point to the potential dangers that can occur as the result of the additional risks created when work demands exceed a particular threshold. Most of the studies I have performed suggest that the dangers are most pronounced when people regularly work more than 12 hours per day or 60 hours per week….

Long working hours and overweight and obesity in working adults

Source: Byung-Mi Kim, Bo-Eun Lee, Hye-Sook Park, Young-Ju Kim, Young-Ju Suh, Jeong-youn Kim, Ji-Young Shin, Eun-Hee Ha, Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, First Online: August 22, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: Previous studies have identified a link between gender and the various risk factors associated with obesity. We examined obesity risk factors in working adults to identify the effects of differences in body mass index (BMI) and percentage body fat (PBF) between women and men.

Methods: A total of 1,120 adults agreed to participate in the study. Data from 711 participants, including 411 women and 300 men, were analyzed. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the effects of risk factors on obesity and being overweight. In addition, the least-squares (LS) means of both BMI and PBF were estimated by analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) in a generalized linear model.

Results: Increases in BMI and PBF were significantly related to an age > 50 years and long working hours in women after compensating for confounding factors. Using the PBF criterion, the odds ratio (OR) of being overweight or obese in women > 50 years of age who worked for > 9 h a day was 3.9 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05–11.00). For BMI, women who were > 50 years of age and worked for > 9 h a day were 3.82 times (95% CI, 1.31–11.14) more likely to be overweight or obese than those who were < 50 years of age and worked for < 9 h a day. Conclusion: Obesity in working adults was associated with > 50 years of age and long working hours in women. Further studies are needed to investigate the underlying mechanisms of this relationship and its potential implications for the prevention and management of excess weight and obesity.

After-hours availability expectations, work-related smartphone use during leisure, and psychological detachment: The moderating role of boundary control

Source: Christin Mellner, International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 9 no. 2, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Modern working life is characterized by increased expectations for employees to be available to deal with work issues outside regular work hours and by using new communication technology. This implies more individual freedom in organizing work in time and space, but also places increased demands on employees to manage the boundaries between work and personal life. This, in turn, can be expected to be crucial to their ability to mentally detach from work during free time. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether individual perceptions of boundary control moderate the impact of after-hours availability expectations and work-related smartphone use during off-work hours on psychological detachment

The study population comprised 2,876 gainfully employed professionals from four large organizations in both the public and private sector, representing various businesses and occupations. Univariate correlations and multiple, linear hierarchical multiple regression analyses were performed.

High after-hours availability expectations, high frequency of work-related smartphone use, and low boundary control were associated with poor psychological detachment. Furthermore, boundary control moderated the relationships between both after-hours availability expectations and work-related smartphone use, respectively, and psychological detachment. As such, boundary control mitigated the negative effects of both after-hours availability expectations and work-related smartphone use during leisure on psychological detachment.

Practical implications
Modern work organizations would benefit from introducing availability policies and helping employees reduce their work-related smartphone use outside regular work hours, thus helping them achieve successful boundary control and subsequent psychological detachment.

In a working life characterized by blurred boundaries, employees’ ability to achieve boundary control can be regarded as crucial.