Working sixty hours a week is dangerous

August 23, 2013, 9:00 AM UTC

20% of Britons have worked an ‘all nighter’ – but working twelve hours a day is considered ‘dangerously or unsustainably hard’

Pressure is building on the financial sector to overhaul its culture of excessively long working hours, following the death of a 21 year old banking intern, Moritz Erhardt, who worked until 6am for three consecutive days. One of Moritz’s fellow interns said they “typically work 15 hours a day or more” – but where is the line between hard work and dangerously hard work?

A new YouGov poll finds that 20% of British adults say they have worked an ‘all nighter,’ but the perception of what is dangerous for health is considerably lower.

While 40 is the median number of hours Britons consider to be ‘normal for someone to be working full time,’ 50 is the point at which someone is considered to be working ‘really hard.’

60 hours a week, or 12 hours a day, is the median number of hours considered to be ‘dangerously or unsustainably hard.’ Only 24% of Britons say the point at which work becomes dangerous is higher.

Currently it is illegal for companies to make employees work longer than 48 hours per week unless they opt out of the EU working time directive. 66% say workers should be allowed to do so, while only 25% say they should not.  

A professor at Cass business school said the state of the employment market and the nature of the industry are making people “pretty desperate to get jobs… some employers are exploiting that fact, pushing people past the point where it makes sense for their health or from a business perspective."

See the full poll results