Is a 40-hour work week long? short?

Japan's Labor Standards Law stipulates that employers must not, in principle, make their employees work more than 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. On the other hand, according to the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, the upper limit of

working hours is basically 48 hours per week. Okta, which develops security and authentication services, introduced where the number of '40 to 50 hours a week' set in this way came from and what history it has traced.

Is 40 hours a week too much? Here's what history and science say | Okta Australia

The eight-hour working day rule has a long history. Back in 1817, Robert Owen , who played an active role for workers after the industrial revolution, coined the phrase '8 hours of work, 8 hours of entertainment, 8 hours of rest', and from this time on, people work 8 hours a day. There were signs of the condition.

According to Okta, in the manufacturing industry in the 1800s, it was common to work nearly 100 hours a week, with shifts of 10 to 16 hours, six days a week. In 1866, the United States Labor Union asked Congress to enact a law mandating an eight-hour work day, but the law did not pass. However, this argument will increase public support for the eight-hour working day.

Although many industries introduced eight-hour workdays in the early 1900s, most people still worked six days a week until 1926 when Henry Ford cut workers' hours by one day. This state of affairs seems to have persisted.

Speaking of Henry Ford, he is a famous person as the founder of the automobile manufacturer 'Ford Motor' which adopted innovative mass production methods and expanded the scale all over the world. When Ford cut his working hours from 8 hours a day, 6 days a week to 5 days a week, he found that he was more productive than ever, so he actively worked 5 days a week, or 40 hours a week. You will be able to push forward. “Ford’s success has inspired manufacturers across the country to implement 40-hour workweeks,” Okta points out.

In 1938, the United States enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act, which obliged employers to pay overtime to all workers who worked more than 44 hours a week. Two years later, this figure was revised to 40 hours a week, and as of 2022, this figure of 40 hours is one standard.

Although the working hours have decreased over a long period of time, the question that the working hours of 40 hours a week is 'too little?' Okta replied, 'The clear answer is no. There is a lot of evidence to prove it from over 100 years of research and testing.'

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which summarized 52 applied psychology studies, found that long shifts and regular overtime have a negative impact on both employers and workers. He said.

Several studies have found that people who regularly work overtime are in poorer health, gain more weight, are more likely to get sick, and are more likely to be injured on the job. Also, after the 8th hour of work in a day, attention decreases and the possibility of making mistakes increases. Some studies have shown that people who regularly work long hours or overtime are less productive than those who work 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.

It also shows the benefits of reducing working hours. In 1974, when the UK introduced a four-day weekend on a trial basis, productivity dropped by only 6%. France limited the maximum working hours per week to 35 hours from 2000 to 2008, but a survey of workers found that more than half said they were happier working less hours and that work and life can be balanced,” he replied.

Despite these results, Okta points out that workers' effective working hours have been on the rise in recent years. Regarding the long-standing 40-hour week figure, Okta says, ``It's a different environment than in the past, so it's important to find the schedule that works best for your company.''

With the advancement of modern technology, it is now possible to work 'anytime, anywhere' unlike 100 years ago when we went to work in a factory. In recent years, the monthly wage system has become more popular than the hourly wage system, and the definition of 'overtime work' is becoming ambiguous. It is possible that the burden of labor is increasing.

“There is some evidence, although not enough to draw any definitive conclusions, that a 40-hour workweek is too long,” Okta said. Why don't you consider the potential benefits of being able to decide your own working hours, etc.'

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