New York, NY — May 27, 2021
A recently released study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) tracking loss of life and health associated with working long hours between 2000 and 2016 has shown that as many as 745,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease a year can be linked to individuals who worked at least 55 hours a week. The numbers of death grew by 29 percent from the first year of the study to the last. The findings come as several high-profile U.S. companies have recently made headlines with complaints from workers after extreme workweeks.
Pamela Wolf, J.D. senior employment legal analyst at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S., can speak more on this topic and discuss what government and corporate oversight exists to try to combat these troubling trends.
Please find more information below.
WHAT: In a global analysis of the number of deaths and health related issues associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO estimate that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart disease as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease due to working long hours increased by 42 percent, and from stroke by 19 percent.
WHY: In the U.S., the Fair Labor Standards Act requires covered employers to pay overtime wages for non-exempt employees who work over 40 hours in a workweek; some states, notably California, have additional employee protections. But for the large numbers of employees who are exempt under federal or state law, and who are not covered by a union or employment contract that contains additional protections, their employers may require them to work any number of hours. Most private sector employers operate under employment-at-will—where employers are able to fire workers for any reason or no reason at all—including refusal to work mandated hours.
WHO: Pam Wolf, J.D., senior employment law analyst at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. is available to offer analysis on:
- State lawmakers enacting new restrictions on maximum work hours;
- Maximum work restrictions in new employment contracts;
- Factors that impact employers immediately, such as employee dissatisfaction, public relations implications, and unionization vulnerabilities;
- What we can expect to see from large companies in regard to this report, and more.
“I believe the WHO/ILO study is going to be eye-opening to many employers on the amount of hours their employees should be working and the dangerous tolls on any employee’s health, safety, and productivity overall,” says Pam Wolf, senior employment legal analyst at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. “This study points out many things that employers should keep in mind when considering reviewing and modifying current company policies, and may push regulators to reexamine federal and state labor legislation originally written decades ago when the workplace was very different.”
For members of the press who wish to arrange an interview with Pam Wolf about the impact of long working hours or related topics, please contact us at [email protected]
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