Half of workforce 'depressed by stress'

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The Independent Online
Half the country's workforce are depressed because they feel they are under increased stress in their jobs, a survey is to reveal today.

One in three people are working longer hours than they want to and half are not getting overtime pay for their extra hours, the survey says

The study by the pollster NOP for Granada TV's World in Action says that the stresses caused by an increase in hours and the fear of unemployment are costing the country billions of pounds a year.

Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational psychologist, says on the programme, broadcast tonight: "It is a time bomb in our society and we are going to pay the cost."

Professor Cooper was the author of a booklet on stress controversially axed by the Department of Health this week. The department said recent research disputed the link between heart attacks and longer working hours.

Professor Cooper, from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, says on the programme that the stress problem is moving from the shop floor into white collar professions.

"The bill last year to the UK economy was pounds 11bn due to sickness absence alone, of which we'll say conservatively that a third is stress related, he says.

The survey, of 1,003 full-time workers, says that 63 per cent felt they were under more stress at work than five years ago. As a result 44 per cent said they had trouble sleeping, 26 per cent drank more because of work and 22 per cent smoked more.

Sixty per cent said they were exhausted at the end of the working day and 56 per cent said they did not have enough time for family or personal relationships. Almost a third expected the stress level to rise in the next two years, while 58 per cent said fear of losing their jobs was the reason for working harder.