‘Cut hours, not people’ urge Salford and Cambridge academics
Researchers are warning that some paid work is vital for wellbeing, as the Bank of England forecasts that unemployment could more than double in the UK following the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, researchers from the University of Salford and the University of Cambridge examined how changes in working hours were linked to mental health and life satisfaction in over 70,000 UK residents as they changed working hours between 2009 and 2018.
The study revealed that when people moved from unemployment or stay-at-home parenting into paid work of eight hours or less a week, their risk of mental health problems reduced by an average of 30%. However, anything more than eight hours made little difference.
Dr Daiga Kamerāde, Reader in Work and Wellbeing at the University of Salford (pictured), said: “Research shows that some work is better than no job at all. As the coronavirus pandemic impacts on the economy, and there is less work available in some areas, a shorter standard working week could be a solution to ensure everyone can still get the mental health benefits of a job.
"This could be a temporary short time model (already adopted in many European countries), where the number of working hours is reduced to safeguard employment and employees’ income, while at the same time enabling companies to reduce labour costs through state support. Alternatively we could permanently move to a standard working week of fewer than 40 hours for everyone.”
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