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Need policies to counter longer working hrs: UN

Working hours across the world are becoming increasingly unpredictable due to a growing 24 hr, 7 day a-week economy.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2006 10:40 IST

Working hours across the world are becoming increasingly unpredictable due to a growing twenty four hour, seven day a-week economy thus creating worker employer tension and requiring new policies to counter the risk this poses to the work-life balance, a just released UN study has said.

"The growing tendency to more atypical and unpredictable working hours is having a dramatic affect on workers and employers," International Labour Organisation (ILO) Senior Researcher Jon Messenger said.

Working hours that are increasing in some industrialised countries and shrinking in others, is characterised by the atypical and unpredictable nature of working time, and the increase in weekend and night work, according to the study.

"All these things are creating increasing tensions which make work-life balance a big issue. Increasingly, we need new policies to help promote this work-life balance," Messenger, a co-editor of the study, said.

The study said there was intense competitive pressure in an increasingly 24-hour-a-day, 7 -day-a-week working environment that is forcing companies to tailor working time arrangements more closely to market demands which in turn has led to increasingly variable hours of work.

Flexible working time is crucial especially for workers with family responsibilities, such as women who have to balance their working hours with their domestic obligations.

Based on existing labour standards on working time and recent research, the study proposes that decent working time policies should make sure that arrangements are healthy, family friendly, promote gender equality, advance enterprise competitiveness and facilitate worker choice and their hours of work.