In recent years, working time laws have become central to national and international debate. The reduction of working hours is one of the objectives of the labour law. About half of 103 countries have adopted normal limit of 40 hours or less and the others are between 42 to 48 hours a week. In Malaysia, the employment act requires an employees’ to work no more than 48 hours in a week.
With presence of the law, it is a positive development as the employees can achieve a lot such as, a work-life balance lifestyle, health and safety at work and enhances productivity. Some studies have identified that long working hours caused work-life conflict and have found a negative impact on marital relations and lack of family responsibility. The Third and the Fourth European Working Conditions Surveys have shown that a high proportion of men and women who work more than 48 hours per week report incompatibility between working hours and family life.
Thus, it is important for employees to spend quality time with their family rather than in office. Besides family, they are also able to spend time for friends to keep up their social activities. Secondly, an ‘overwork’ job, which can be defined as the length of working hours will increase physical and mental fatigue of an employee. Employees who work long hours will get tired and stress when they have less time to rest which result in negative affect on their health. These can lead to lower concentration and carelessness in handling their job.
By not being able to carry out the job carefully, it can potentially affect the safety of the employees and its surroundings. For instance, if the employee is responsible to handle hazardous chemicals, it can be deadly if he did not dispose it according to the steps or procedures in the guidelines. In order to protect the health and safety of employees, it is important to ensure that they do not work excessively by providing adequate periods of rest and recuperation. Next, work productivity is enhanced when a worker is physically and mentally fit.
Every organization and worker will be targeted to have high productivity or output on their work. High productivity is not just on quantities produced but also on performance, ideas and quality of work. Studies have shown that long working hours can decrease work performance due to lack of rest. Not only is a worker able to produce better result with shorter working hours but also on their attitude and morale.
For example, a designer may not be able to come out with ideas even though he spends 10 hours to draw out designs which in fact lead him to physically and mentally stress. He is probably being able to come out with better idea when he has a proper rest and a fresher mind. Therefore, it is important to establish the limit on working hours by providing minimum weekly rest periods and paid annual leave for every employee. The law is set to protect employees from excessive hours of work, better work-life balance lifestyle and protect their health and safety .