Working on Sundays–effects on safety, health, and work-life balance

Chronobiol Int. 2011 May;28(4):361-70. doi: 10.3109/07420528.2011.565896.


Several attributes of the work schedule can increase the risk of occupational injuries and accidents, health impairments, and reduced social participation. Although previous studies mainly focused on the effects of shiftwork and long working hours on employee health and safety, there is little evidence of a potential negative impact of working Sundays on the incidence of occupational accidents, health impairments, and work-life balance. A representative sample of employed workers in 31 member and associated states of the European Union (n = 23,934) served as the database for a cross-sectional analysis. The sample was collected via face-to-face interviews in the year 2005. The association of the risks of occupational accidents, health impairments, and decreases in work-life balance with working Sundays was calculated using logistic regression models, controlling for potential confounders, such as shiftwork, workload, and demographic characteristics. The results indicated that working one or more Sundays/month was associated with increase both in the risk of reporting one or more health impairments (odds ratio [OR]: 1.17, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.06-1.29) and poorer work-life balance (OR: 1.15, 95% CI: 1.02-1.28). These effects remained after controlling for potentially confounding factors, such as other work schedule attributes, intensity of physical and mental workload, and individual characteristics. Furthermore, working Sundays was also related to increased risk of occupational accidents within the last year (OR: 1.34, 95% CI: 1.03-1.73). Controlling again for individual, workload, and working-time characteristics, a significant association with accident risk, however, remained only in work sectors with low a priori risk of occupational accidents (OR: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.02-1.91), although the increased risk could be observed for both medium and high a priori risk sectors working Sundays (without controlling for additional confounders). The results thus indicate that the detrimental effects of working Sundays on safety, health, and social well-being should be taken into account when designing work schedules. The potential hazards to employees' safety, health, and work-life balance, in particular, should be considered in discussions concerning extending work on Sundays in certain sectors, e.g., retail.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • European Union
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Participation
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / physiology*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / psychology*
  • Workload
  • Young Adult