WORKING just one day a week is ideal for mental health, a study reveals.
But spending any longer grafting for a wage offers no extra benefit.
Researchers have suggested that in the future workers could get five-day weekends[/caption]
Paid employment is known to boost self-esteem and raise social inclusion, while those on the dole are at higher risk of depression.
Experts from Cambridge and Salford universities looked at how changes in working hours were linked to life satisfaction in over 70,000 Brits.
They found being employed for between one to eight hours a week was the most “effective dose” – reducing the risk of mental health problems by a third.
But doing any more labour made little difference.
‘DETRIMENTAL TO WELLBEING’
The researchers said Brits could in the future work just two hours a day – or get “five day weekends” for optimum health.
Currently, the average full-time UK worker does around 37 hours weekly.
With computers and robots taking up more jobs, experts said their findings could lead to the creation of minimum levels of employment to keep people healthy.
Researcher Dr Brendan Burchell, a sociologist from Cambridge University, said: “We have effective dosage guides for everything from Vitamin C to hours of sleep in order to help us feel better, but this is the first time the question has been asked of paid work.
“We know unemployment is often detrimental to people’s wellbeing, negatively affecting identity, status, time use, and sense of collective purpose.
“We now have some idea of just how much paid work is needed to get the psychosocial benefits of employment – and it’s not that much at all.”
The study is published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.
Researchers suggested workers of the future could get “five-day weekends” or have two months off for every month at work.
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Fellow researcher Dr Daiga Kamerade, from Salford University, said: “In the next few decades we could see artificial intelligence, big data and robotics replace much of the paid work currently done by human.
“If there is not enough for everybody who wants to work full-time, we will have to rethink current norms.
“This should include the redistribution of working hours, so everyone can get the mental health benefits of a job, even if that means we all work much shorter weeks.”
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