Eight Hour Day prompts calls for inquiry into health hazards of unpaid overtime
As working people celebrate the anniversary of the eight hourday, Unions NSW has called on the State Government to establish a taskforce to look into the health effects of unpaid overtime and long working hours on the NSW working population.
Australians work some of the longest hours in the OECD, with recent research by Sydney University's Workplace Research Centre showing half of all full time employees work more than the standard 35 - 40 hour working week, with a quarter working more than fifty hours per week.
International research also demonstrates that long hours are beginning to have a sharp impact on the productivity and mental health of the workforce.
Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon called on the State Government to establish a dedicated taskforce to look into the issue.
"Sadly, the eight hour day has become a distant memory for a vast swathe of the NSW workforce," Mr Lennon said.
"The reality is that long hours are of no benefit to anyone. They increase stress and mental illness and eat away at productivity.
"We need to end the culture of the long working day in Australia - it's both economically and socially dangerous."
A six year study of 2000 UK civil servants by University College, London and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found people who work more than 11 hours a day areteice as likely to suffer major depression as those working a standard eight hour day.
The study also found that overtime leads to a 60 per cent higher risk of heart disease.
Mr Lennon said the Government should elevate the issue above politics.
"All sides of politics need to recognise this is an emerging problem in our community.
“If we took preventative measures such as curbing excessive working hours, workers compensation and workplace injuries would be far less common.
"We're hoping to see a non-partisan approach to this issue, so that we can put the economic and social good of the State first."