Being able to choose the hours your
work is not only convenient, it may also be good for your health, a new study
The study by Cochrane Researchers
suggests potential health benefits to blood pressure, sleep and mental health 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.
The review included 10 studies
involving 16,603 people which focused on different forms of flexible working.
Self-scheduling of working hours was found to have positive health outcomes.
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 report’s
lead author 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,” she said.
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.”