Health of shift workers suffers

Over two thirds of shift workers say that their health has suffered as a result of their work schedule, according to a survey.  Half of the respondents said they had no input into when their shifts were scheduled, with a similar percentage reporting that their shifts are not planned well and did not take into account their needs and lifestyle. A third said they receive one week or less notice of their shifts.


Nearly three quarters of workers polled said they worked shifts because those were the hours that the work needed to be done, and not because it fitted with their lifestyle.Employers have a responsibility to support the health of those who work insecure hours. The health risks of shift work include fatigue, obesity and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.The limited flexibility of this type of work can result in increased stress and reduced work-life balance and employers should look for ways to support their shift workers, including through strong line management support and reviewing working patterns.


The report also found other issues with the scheduling of shifts. Nearly half of respondents said they often have less than a 12 hour break between shifts (the legal minimum is 11 hours), while 30% said they did unpaid overtime.


Poorly organised shifts are a hidden cost to businesses from employee morale and retention perspectives and therefore it is important to consider their planning as an essential element of the business operation.


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