BLOG 273 OVERWORKED
Americans seem to have a lot of excuses when it comes to prioritizing their health. The U.S. has dictated a full time works schedule to consist of 40 hours per 7-day week, consisting of 8 hours per day. Most people use this time Monday through Friday, having weekends off. However, the U.S. does not have any exact laws setting the maximum work length for each week. As a result, 85.8% of males and 66.5% of females work more than 40 hours per week. Statistics are showing that Americans work 137 more hours per year than the Japanese, 260 more than the British, and 499 more than the French.
Following this trend of overworking, the U.S. also does not have a federal law requiring paid sick leave days. There are also not any laws about mandated annual leave. Therefore, the very people that are issuing pay checks are making the decisions about how to compensate time spent at work. With money and profit at the heart of the issue, it is no wonder people are working more hours.
It is easy for outsiders to merely say to work less hours. In doing so, that can translate to less money, which leads to more stress and lower quality of life. The problem is that when work is taking up a person’s schedule, almost entirely, there is little time for family and loved ones, spending time enjoying hobbies, unwinding, being social, and then of course….exercising. High stress and sedentary work life do to make a healthy combination. Somehow the mentality of work first has led to being intimidated to ask for time off to raise a child, to take a vacation, to have a couple hours off during the week, etc.
The statistics show that Americans are hard working. The average person is working 47 hours, not just 40. Some places of employment also require a 9-hour day because the 1 hour lunch does not count. That adds to additional time away from home and for self. Americans are starting to get a reputation for being chained to their desks. Some people even work through their lunches. Many just eat at their desks. Some just skip lunch altogether. In Spain, Greece, and other countries, lunch hour is a lose term and last as long as desired or needed. In Sweden, workers take a fika, which is a coffee break for all employees to socialize. There are actually laws in France that require workers to ignore emails and calls after work hours.
So much time at work is now a reflection of American’s waistlines, stress, mental health, and family relations. Most children grow up in a home with both working parents and if they both are gone for extended hours, that means there is less interaction. The cycle continues, and yet people have to pay their bills and taxes. How does the rest of the world have this figured out and make their health and work life balanced? We have yet to find the balance but need to restore our priorities or else the health consequences will continue to rise.