News Say no to overtime

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Why you need to say no to overtime

If you’re the first to open the office each morning, and the last to leave, it’s likely you’re spending longer than eight hours at work each day. In fact, some 16 per cent of Australians work more than 50 hours each week and, according to a major new study, they could be putting their lives at risk by doing so.

Having analysed 12 studies dating back to 1958 and involving 22,000 people from around the world, researchers have found that spending too long in the workplace can result in an up to 80 per cent greater chance of heart disease.

Conducted by scientists at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the analysis found that those who spend longer than eight hours in the workplace each day have between 40 and 80 per cent greater chance of developing heart disease.

Does this look like you?

According to the lead researcher, Dr Marianna Virtanen, the increase in risk could be due to a combination of factors.

‘There are several potential mechanisms that may underlie the association between long working hours and heart disease,’ she said in a report on the findings. ‘In addition to prolonged exposure to psychological stress other triggers could be raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol, poor eating habits and lack of physical activity due to restricted leisure time.’

The research comes three years after the same team of scientists discovered longer working hours increase the risk of dementia later in the life.

Whilst the number of hours worked by the average Australian are on the decline, there are still too many employees consistently working longer than the maximum weekly 38 hours recommended by the National Employment Standards (NES). However, saying no to unreasonable hours can be daunting, so how do you do it?

According to Chris Higgins and Linda Duxbury, the authors of Saying “No” in a culture of hours, money and non-support, the journey back from a work-life imbalance starts with you. With advances in technology, our work life has crept into our home life, blurring the borders that were once enforced simply by leaving the office. Today, however, our smart phones will tell us if we have an email, no matter what time of day or night, no matter where we are.

Higgins and Duxbury believe the enemy is not your boss, it’s you. So what’s their advice?

‘Leave your BlackBerry in the car; don’t take it into your home. Turn off the wireless network in the evening; don’t turn it on again until the next morning. Find time to relax, as this is by far the best coping mechanism. Play golf without a cellphone or BlackBerry in your golf bag. Talk to your spouse without feeling like you have hundreds of other priorities (and all you want to do is get at them.) Plan downtime and shoot any enemy (including yourself) that tries to take it away.’

What about you? Do you work more than eight hours a day? How do you relax?

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About the Author

Lizzy has more than ten years’ experience in the print and digital publishing arena and is the Editor at Single File. Having moved from the UK to Australia in 2008, Lizzy has worked for a number of leading publishers in Sydney and has particular expertise in the health, wellness and travel markets. If you have any questions for Lizzy, you can send them across by email to

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  1. Pingback: Why you need to say ‘No!’ to overtime | Lizzy Wood

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