The President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, Professor John Ashton, has stated that Britain should change to a four-day working week in a bid to fight stress.
He stated that shorter work hours would allow workers to spend more time with their families and could reduce unemployment. It would also help in fighting medical illnesses, such as mental health problems and high blood pressure.
Professor Ashton stated that if you were to observe the way in which people live their lives, the stresses that are placed on them, the pressure on their time and work-related sickness absence, it is obvious that mental health becomes an issue.
He said one of the reasons for the move to a four-day working week is that globally a portion of workers is working too hard, while large sections do not have jobs. There is a misdistribution of work. Most people do not take a lunch break and simply eat while working at their desk.
Professor Ashton leads in excess of 3300 public health experts employed at the NHS, academia and local government. He voiced his opinions after the change in the law which provides all employees with the right to request flexible hours. This may include anything from a three-day working week to working during school term time only, an option which was previously only available to parents and carers.
Britons are known to work some of the longest hours in Europe, with the average Brit working about 250 hours more than their German counterpart.
Thirty percent of British adults suffer from high blood pressure, which is a killer condition that trebles the person’s risk of stroke and heart attack. It also causes damage to the eyes and kidneys and has been linked to dementia.
According to the charity Mind, one in six workers is experiencing depression, anxiety and stress at any one time.
Professor Ashton stated that a shorter working week would allow people to spend more time with their families and have the time to do regular exercise.
A recent poll run by YouGov discovered that 57% of workers would favour a four-day work week.
The Trade Union Congress was in agreement that many would welcome a shorter work week, but was concerned about the ease of implementation of this ruling.
Professor Ashton stated that implementing this policy would be quite involved and one of the reasons is that the high cost of living stops many people from being able to work fewer hours. However, he stated that we should have a suitable working pattern which is good for our health, society and the economy.
Image Credit: David Wall