Everybody's working on the weekend
Globe and Mail:SCOTT DEVEAU: June 14, 2006
As the 9-to-5 work schedule goes the way of
the dodo in Canada, a new McMaster University study argues that employees
have a lot more at stake than just their weekends.
As businesses increasingly rely on part-time, contract and seasonal labour,
the number of Canadians working on the weekends increased to nearly 20 per
cent in 1999 from 11 per cent in 1991. Only 62 per cent of Canadians work
from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, according to the study.
Businesses tend to stay open on weekends to increase profit, use capital
efficiently by not keeping it idle and provide extended hours of service for
consumers, the McMaster study argues.
For the people who are doing the work or providing the service, however, the
cost of this convenience can be increased stress, physical and mental health
problems and ultimately decreased productivity at work.
|"Weekend work is an unsocial schedule that can be disruptive to personal
life, affecting leisure time, time for pursuing personal interests, time
spent with family and socializing with friends, neighbours and within the
community," said Professor Isik Zeytinoglu, lead author of the study. "The
underlying theme of our paper is that healthy working time is an important
component of workers' health."
Social health — the ability to interact with friends and family — is equally
important to employees as is their physical and mental health, she said.
A recent Statistics Canada report appears to support these findings. Stress
and poor health were more commonly associated with employees who had highly
variable schedules or who were overworked.
According to the Statscan report, released in April, 51 per cent of workers
in high-instability jobs said they had a high stress level, compared with
only 38 per cent of those working standard hours. And 20 per cent of people
with unstable schedules said they were in fair or poor health, compared with
16 per cent of people working regular hours.
The McMaster study, which uses Statistics Canada data, found that the
majority of people working on weekends are part-time or seasonal workers,
the bulk of whom are women. Prof. Zeytinoglu said the reason for women
working more on the weekend is because they fill a larger segment of the
part-time work force.
The figures used in the study are a conservative estimate, she said, because
they account only for those who are regularly scheduled to work on the
weekends. Prof. Zeytinoglu noted that it does not include people who may
stop in occasionally on weekends or are available from home.
Canadians now work on average 33.3 hours a week.
"We have to find a healthy balance," Prof. Zeytinoglu said. "We have to have
some type of work hours that it would be possible for workers to interact
with their families, with their neighbours, with their friends and interact
with the community."