Describing economic benefits and costs of nonstandard work hours: a scoping review

Publication type
Journal article
Wong IS, Quay B, Irvin E, Belzer MH
Date published
2022 Jan 01
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Open Access?

BACKGROUND: The benefits of nonstandard work hours include increased production time and the number of jobs. While for some sectors, such as emergency services, around-the-clock work is a necessary and critical societal obligation, work outside of traditional daytime schedules has been associated with many occupational safety and health hazards and their associated costs. Thus, organizational- and policy-level decisions on nonstandard work hours can be difficult and are based on several factors including economic evaluation. However, there is a lack of systematic knowledge of economic benefits and costs associated with these schedules. METHODS: We conducted a scoping review of the methodology and data used to examine the economic benefits and costs of nonstandard work hours and related interventions to mitigate risks. RESULTS: Ten studies met all our inclusion criteria. Most studies used aggregation and analysis of national and other large datasets. Costs estimated include health-related expenses, productivity losses, and projections of future loss of earnings. Cost analyses of interventions were provided for an obstructive sleep apnea screening program, implementation of an employer-based educational program, and increased staffing to cover overtime hours. CONCLUSIONS: A paucity of studies assess nonstandard work hours using economic terms. Future studies are needed to expand economic evaluations beyond the employer level to include those at the societal level because impacts of nonstandard work go beyond the workplace and are important for policy analysis and formulation. We pose the opportunity for researchers and employers to share data and resources in the development of more analyses that fill these research gaps