Shift workers likelier to face social exclusion

People who work non-standard hours are less likely to feel integrated into the society, a new study has found.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), points out that the Government promotes work as the best route to personal well-being, with worklessness going hand in hand with low income and social exclusion.

Yet, Matt Barnes’ research shows that working uncommon hours can also have implications for people’s opportunities to engage and feel integrated in society.

Two-thirds of workers work at unusual times. Although shops and other facilities are beginning to adapt, such workers still find their leisure time constrained by the limited availability of services, as well as other people with whom to spend their free time.

Compared with people who work a standard week, these shift workers spend less time on face-to-face social and relational activities, particularly if they work in the evening or at the weekend.

On an average, evening workers spend six hours 43 minutes on participatory activities per week and Sunday workers just over five hours, compared with over eight hours for those who work normal hours.

“By getting people to keep a diary and analysing the way they spend their time over a 24 hour period, we have been able to understand how they ‘participate’ and what might be done to create greater social inclusion,” Barnes, the lead researcher, said.

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