These sacrifices can translate into increased risk for accidents and injuries; greater chronic fatigue, stress, and related diseases; reduced parenting and family time; and diminished quality of goods and services – a serious public concern particularly in the health care sector.The social costs associated with the growth in work hours and persistent overtime are particularly worrisome when the long hours are involuntary.
Mandatory overtime hours are those above the standard work week (usually 40) that the employer makes compulsory with the threat of job loss or the threat of other reprisals such as demotion or assignment to unattractive tasks or work shifts.
1994), confirming what researchers had previously found at manufacturing plants (Schuster 1985) and among anesthetists (Gander et al. Workers who work overtime face a greater risk of injury and illness (Aakerstedt 1994; Duchon et al. For a typical example, a German study found that, after nine hours at work, the accident rate begins to rise; in the 12th hour the accident rate was twice as high as the rate for the first nine hours (Hanecke et al. Long work hours also multiply repetitive motions and exposure to harmful chemicals. A study by Northwestern National Life (1991), which investigated employee burnout, found that seven out of 10 employees experiencing job stress said they frequently suffered health ailments.
Further, frequent overtime and compressed work schedules that produce long workdays can be a major cause of the stress and chronic fatigue reported by many workers, as well as the ensuing occupational burnout or serious health conditions (Sparks et al. Frequent mandatory overtime was one of the leading five factors that caused increased stress.
The need for limits on mandatory overtime In the United States, unlike in most European countries, employment is “at will,” meaning that the employer can dismiss an employee for any reason or for no reason – except gender, race, age, or disability.
Thus, employees who refuse to work overtime can lose their jobs or face other reprisals such as demotion or assignment to unattractive work or to less desirable shift times such as nights or weekends.