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Wednesday, August 25, 1999 Published at 01:32 GMT 02:32 UK

Business: The Economy

'One million workaholics' in UK

Many love being at work, but is it good for them?

As many as one million British employees are "workaholics" who spend long hours at work because they enjoy it, according to new research.

The BBC's Steve Evans reports: "The UK work longer hours thatn the rest of Eurpoe"
However, this dedication is frequently at the expense of not only their home and social lives, but also of how productive they are.

The Institute of Personnel and Development conducted a survey of 8,000 workers and found that 823 - more than one in 10 - worked longer than the European Working Time Directive maximum of 48 hours.

Among this group, one in three said they were addicted to their jobs, working more than 60 hours a week. If that proportion was replicated across the whole workforce, it would suggest 1 million workaholics.

Managers, craft and professional workers were most likely to put in extra hours, blaming heavy workloads or "sheer love of the job".

Stress and break-ups

The survey found that those who worked long hours frequently did so without any overtime pay, as well as working on public holidays and not taking their full vacation entitlement.

Despite enjoying their work, however, nearly half of those working more than 48 hours said this had damaged their relationship with their children.

One in eight of the "workaholics" had broken up with their partner in recent years.

On the professional front, 73% of the group said they had made mistakes at work because of tiredness.

Not 'downtrodden drudges'

The report's author, Melissa Compton-Edwards, said the results of the survey suggested there was "scope for organisations and individuals to find ways of working smarter rather than harder".

She said the findings showed that not all those ho worked long hours were "downtrodden drudges", but could be enthusiasts who did so out of choice.

Ms Compton-Edwards added, however, that: "While there's nothing wrong with having a passion for work, regularly burning the midnight oil could result in accidents or costly mistakes being made."

Challenge to directive

The report is being published against a background of union unhappiness at the way the European Working Time Directive has been implemented in the UK.

Unions said last month that the government had stripped the directive of most of its effects when incorporating it into law.

The Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union said it would challenge changes made by the government in the European courts.

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