Go Home On Time Day was on this week - a day for awareness about the risks of working too hard.

The old adage goes; ‘Work to live, don’t live to work’, and new research this week shows the risks for those with their noses perennially to the grindstone can be high.

“About 30 per cent of people... are working 50 hours a week [and] that's the statistic that's of concern - the number of people who are working two hours a day extra,” head of public health at the School of Population Health at Adelaide University, Dr Dino Pisaniello told the ABC today.

“We know from research that we've done at the University of Adelaide that unsocial working hours does lead to [people being] overweight and obesity in children - that's an indirect effect, but it's all related to the issue.

“Fathers, for example, who are doing this extra time [find] that cuts into the work-life balance leading to things that are adverse for children.

“If we're sitting in a chair for long periods of time that's a problem in itself. We know that from various pieces of research... Those hours may constitute a health problem with regard to stress and [participation] in physical activity.”

“Work we've done suggests that the culture in an organisation can influence health. Australia ranks pretty highly in terms of long working hours, probably about fourth on OECD criteria, so it's certainly an issue in the culture, if you like,” Dr Pisaniello said.

He said workers on long hours should consider whether workplace laws could ease the demands placed on them.

“There is an out, if you like, under the current legislation workers can request more flexible working arrangements - that certainly does help but it is a question of whether the employer will then agree to that,” he said.

“Both women and men should take up the possibility of asking those questions.”

Go Home On Time Day is supported by the Australia Institute and Beyond Blue.

The organisers have provided the following tips for getting out on time:

  • Decide a time you will go home before you head off to work
  • Identify early any tasks that might prevent you from going home on time and speak with a manager about expectations
  • Take a lunch break to clear the head as it can boost productivity
  • Plan activities for after work, such as meeting a friend at the gym or taking the kids to the park
  • Make a commitment to go home on time once a week or once a month, to make it part of a routine