Review highlights health benefits of flexible working arrangements

Feb 16, 2010

There is evidence to suggest that flexible working might be beneficial for employees' health if they are allowed to have input into their own working patterns, a review by Cochrane Researchers suggests. The study may throw some light on potential health benefits associated with current trends towards more flexible working in the UK and Europe.

In Scandinavian countries, flexible working arrangements for employees with families are commonplace. And last year, the UK government extended an earlier piece of legislation allowing parents of young children to request flexible working, meaning all parents with children under 16 now have the right to request flexible working arrangements. Although it is assumed that such policies are beneficial, it is important to try to understand health impacts in more detail.

The Cochrane Systematic Review included ten studies involving a total of 16,603 people which focused on various different forms of flexible working. Self-scheduling of working hours was found to have positive impacts on a number of health outcomes including blood pressure, sleep and mental health. In one study, for instance, police officers who were able to change their starting times at work showed significant improvements in psychological wellbeing compared to police officers who started work at a fixed hour.

"Flexible working seems to be more beneficial for health and wellbeing where the individuals control their own work patterns, rather than where employers are in control," said the review lead, Clare Bambra of the Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University in the UK. "Given the limited evidence base, we wouldn't want to make any hard and fast recommendations, but these findings certainly give employers and employees something to think about."

Co-author Kerry Joyce, also based at the Institute, added: "We need to know more about how the health effects of flexible working are experienced by different types of workers, for instance, comparing women to men, old to young and skilled to unskilled. This is important as some forms of flexible working might only be available to employees with higher status occupations and this may serve to increase existing differences in health between social groups."

Explore further: Testosterone testing has increased in recent years

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Get some balance - make flexible work policies work

Jan 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Most organisations' flexible work policies sit idly in policy documents, employees too uncomfortable to implement them because they might be frowned upon by employers or co-workers for deviating from the ...

21,000 Victorians suffer from work-related depression

Jun 01, 2008

Almost one in six cases of depression among working Victorians are caused by job stress. This means more than 21,000 cases of preventable depression are caused by job stress each year, a new University of Melbourne study ...

Report: Sexuality less varied in women

Apr 12, 2007

While the official cause of human sexuality remains debatable, one Michigan State University scientist has said women typically are more sexually flexible.

Recommended for you

Testosterone testing has increased in recent years

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—There has been a recent increase in the rate of testosterone testing, with more testing seen in men with comorbidities associated with hypogonadism, according to research published online Nov. ...

AMA: Hospital staff should consider impact of CMS rule

Nov 21, 2014

(HealthDay)—Hospital medical staff members need to consider the impact of a final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that revised the conditions of participation for hospitals ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tangobozo
not rated yet Feb 16, 2010
While we're at it how about getting those Motherfing babies off this Motherfing plane too.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.