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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 December, 2003, 16:22 GMT
Workers 'too tired' for Christmas
Hospital workers
NHS workers were among those who complained of long hours
Many workers say they are too tired to enjoy Christmas because of the long hours they have to put in.

More than half of those surveyed by the union Amicus said long hours were damaging their home lives.

The research from the biggest private sector union showed that a culture of long working hours was responsible.

The union likened present day bosses to Dickens's character Ebenezer Scrooge who grudgingly let Bob Crachit spend time with his family on Christmas Day.

Of the 3,000 union members questioned, 57% said they were too tired to enjoy time off with the family properly.

The union's leader Derek Simpson said the long hours culture had to change.

Christmas was supposed to be a time for the family, he said.

The survey of workers in the NHS, manufacturing and financial services sector of Amicus found that many of them spent five hours a day commuting to and from work.

The research said this resulted in a negative impact on DIY, hobbies, family life and workers' relationships with their children.

Those questioned worked just over 40 hours a week, which was higher than the European average.


Are long working hours having a negative impact on your enjoyment of Christmas and family life? Let us know using the form below.

My dad works 60-70 hour weeks for three to three and a half months then goes away sailing on his yacht for the rest of the year, sometimes even less. It is simple, if you want to be a sucker working long hours with no pleasure in your work, it's your own fault! You don't need to own a lot of material things to be happy. All you need is sun sea and sand
Ant, Brighton

I work for Local Authority and the work life balance is good in that we work flexi hours so in addition to the 24 days leave we get we can also work up to 12 days (1 day per month) extra and these extra days come in very handy over Xmas time! Let's face it no one WANTS to work but it's up to you to take the initiative and DO SOMETHING in your spare time to balance the 'love to doss' against 'aaargh - got to work' scales!
Joe, Leics, UK

I have little sympathy for anyone who claims they are working too many hours. In today's low-unemployment economy, it is easy enough to leave your job and find another one if you don't like it. Employers only demand long hours because employees let them.
Adam, London, UK

I would never consider a commute of more than a hour each way because of the stress and wasted time
Dan, Surrey
My usual working week is a minimum of 40 hours - which is the average. I moved close to my work to minimise the travelling time - a 10 minute walk each way. This leaves me with plenty of spare time in the evenings, despite the occasional bout of overtime required of me. I would never consider a commute of more than a hour each way because of the stress and wasted time. To those who spend two and a half hours commuting I can only suggest moving closer or changing jobs if it is at all possible - save the environment, reduce congestion and save yourself time and stress.
Dan, Surrey

As a junior doctor I'll be spending Christmas Eve and Boxing day doing 21 hour shifts in Accident & Emergency. At least I finish at 1pm on Christmas Day though. Unfortunately, I think I'll be too tired to even notice Christmas.
Peter Logan, UK

It's not simply the amount of hours worked that causes family issues but also the amount of hours spent travelling in my case. I work an average 40hr week but because my company relocated I now spend between 20 - 25hrs per week travelling. I get up every morning at 06:00 and get home between 18:00 and 19:00. Because my young family are in bed by 19:30 or 20:00 it means that I see them for an average of 90mins per day. If I stay only a little bit late at work, I then wont see them at all! And as this article states, hobbies are nil, DIY is left to the weekend (as well as everything else), I have no exercise and a poor diet as most of my food is 'on the go' kind of stuff.
Glen, Welling, England

As a man who has worked part-time most of his working life I would recommend to anybody to plump for a cut in working hours despite the cut in income. When my friends ask me how I can afford to work part-time, my reply is simple - how can anyone afford NOT to, you only get one life, don't waste it!
Chris, Stroud, UK

Having worked the last year in Auckland and now in Bermuda, I have realised just how wrong the work / play balance is in England. In these places they put in the hours when required, but there is an attitude from the highest level downwards, that work is to fund living and not living itself.
Richard, Hamilton Bermuda

40 hour weeks, what are they? most in the U.S. work a lot longer hours than in the U.K. We only get Christmas Day off if we are lucky, not even Boxing Day and in my husbands case he is on stand by. Be grateful that you have a job lots don't, hard work never hurt anybody and we can always find time to do the things that are really important to us.
Jill Bureau, U.S.A.

There doesn't seem to be any attempt in the UK to strike a balance between work and family life
Martin, UK ex-pat
There doesn't seem to be any attempt in the UK to strike a balance between work and family life. This in the long run (in relative terms) will utterly destroy the sense of community, moral fabric and quality of life. If you tolerate this, then your children will be next.
Martin, UK ex-pat

These stories are all too common. Mine was similar. Between three and four hours of commuting each day, long working days with few breaks, always more being demanded from dwindling resources until the straw eventually broke the camel's back. I had children to be with them and to take an active part in their development and journey through life, not to be the pay cheque that they only saw briefly at weekends. So I voted with my feet and have left the country and started a new life in a land with much lower cost of living, a realistic approach to work/home balance and my children are happier than they have been for years - with their parents around more often to enjoy life with.
Bill, Formerly Milton Keynes, Bucks

Last year I was working about 50 hours a week and had no time to do anything as it was shift work. I quitted the job and took a pay drop of 4k (a risk!) and now work 37 hours a week 9-5 and the quality of life is so much better and I am more relaxed
Alison, Derby

New Year's Resolution: I'm only working the 35 hours I'm paid too!
John S, Crawley, England

This research has validity in my personal experience. Far too many people, most in retail, communications and the transport industries are expected to work unreasonable hours. Many of these people are in low paid part-time employment. How many managers and executives are at their desks today?
Graham, Aberdeen

Whilst I feel sorry for people who do now have a good "quality" of life due to work and hours spent travelling to work, I can only relate to myself. I relocated due to loss of job, and now live in a part of the country (North East Wales), where there is low unemployment, and a lot less stress in your life. Also I only live 15 minutes travel time from work. Is it not time for people to look at other parts of the U/K and not all want to live in the South East?
Anthony Woodward, Mold, United Kingdom

I work for a major Swiss Investment Bank in the city. The majority of our IT work is being outsourced to India and we are expected to work many extra hours without pay just to keep our jobs. I have time off over Xmas, but all I want to do is catch up on sleep and do not have the energy to spend time with my family. Working like this is counter-productive but is becoming the norm in the UK.
Dave Smith, London, UK

It's not simply the amount of hours worked that causes family issues but also the amount of hours spent travelling
Glen, Welling, England

One of the reasons that I gave up my job last year was having to do endless 50 hour weeks throughout the summer with no proper breaks, no overtime and no bonus paid because of a clause in my contract saying 'extra hours will be required'. This is Scrooge factor 10 and the UK probably pays a further price through bad organisation and deadweight middle management coupled with low levels of communication as each individual guards his patch. Bring in cold new laws about working hours and for all the 'guilty' parties in the UK 'clean up your act'.
Lance, Pulborough, Sussex

To be honest it sounds like the usual whinging. If those surveyed worked an average of 40 hours a week (so it says) that's 5 eight hour days. If you can't fit in a normal life around working 40 hours a week I suggest you are a bit of a wimp.
Richard Turner, Surrey, UK

I have to work a minimum of 37 hours a week and usually end up working 40 or more. I also take two hours to commute to and from work. This has a negative impact upon my family life as I am too tired to do anything when I get home, sometimes even too tired to cook for my husband and we end up not having cooked meals on a regular basis!
Yvette Jenkinson, Blackpool

I would just say to anyone who is experiencing increased pressure from work to stop for a minute and really think about what you are working for. Do you really need the extra money? Is an extra 20 hours work per week really worth that new outfit that will be worn once then discarded to the back of the wardrobe?
If you are experiencing financial hardship with debts or household bills then contact your creditors. They will listen and most of the time and you can arrange to reduce payments. Finally if your job really is getting you down and wearing you out then look for another one, it's not impossible! Get out before it's too late because no job in the world is worth being miserable for. Life really is too short.
Rich, UK

We truly live to work
Dave, Kidderminster, England
Of course long hours impact on home life. In an average working day I see my wife and family for three - four hours before either the kids or myself go to bed, also in that time I have to go shopping or do a few jobs around the house etc., so the figure comes down to about two hours per day. I get four full days off a month with my wife due to her working hours and days. We truly live to work in England, and all we get in return is all our hard earned money taxed over and over.
Dave, Kidderminster, England

We still confuse effort with results. And yet the UK cannot compete on effort - it has to use its experience and its investment in education to produce more of what the world wants. This means smarter, not harder, working. It means innovating in people management, high performance cultures, and in developing workplaces where people are able to use their potential. Why are people still commuting? Because bosses don't trust people to work from home and because they don't think it's real work unless it's painful. What is the long term impact on our nation's children? They have to be able to excel and yet their parents are too tired, and busy to support them. Another generation's potential damaged.
Max Mckeown, Leeds, United Kingdom

Our company has an "annual shutdown" between Christmas and New Year, but each year for as long as I can remember there have been "business critical" activities throughout the period. This year we are even being asked to provide support on Christmas Day. All this despite being ordered back in the summer to reserve 4 days of our annual holiday for the non Bank holiday days over the Christmas to New Year period.
Barry N, North Herts

Although I am paid for 37.5 hours a week, I'm expected to work at least 50 hours a week sometimes even up to 60. We "comply" with the working hours directive but what a waste of time that is.
Pete, Basingstoke

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SEE ALSO:
Long hours affect sex life
11 Nov 03  |  Lancashire
Britons 'work 23bn unpaid time'
24 Nov 03  |  Business


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