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Long hours culture harmful to health, say London chefs

27 April 2017 by
Long hours culture harmful to health, say London chefs

More than two-thirds (69%) of London chefs say the ‘work until you drop' culture of professional kitchens is impacting their health.

That's according to a survey by Unite, which urged the hospitality industry to move away from the long hours culture.

The survey found that 79% of respondents said that they have had an accident or near miss due to fatigue.

Almost half (44%) of chefs polled said they worked between 48 and 60 hours a week and more than half (51%) said that they suffer from depression as a result of being overworked.

Nearly a third (27%) said they drink alcohol to see them through their shift.

Unite said that is now standard practice for employers to include an automatic ‘opt-out' of the 48-hour a week rule under the Working Time Regulations in workers' contracts. The union said the clause is often hidden, with workers unaware that they have opted-out.

The survey results were released the results ahead of Workers' Memorial Day tomorrow (Friday 28 April) when a candlelit vigil will be held in memory of chefs around the world that have died or been injured at work.

These include Nathan Laity, who died in 2010 from blood poisoning caused by untreated tonsillitis. He had worked 14 hours a day for 27 days without a break.

"The motto of International Workers' Memorial Day is ‘remember the dead and fight for the living'," commented Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull.

"In fighting for the living we will be calling on the industry to end the long hours' culture.

"Every worker deserves to return home from work healthy and safe every day. But for many chefs working in the UK hospitality industry, the profession's notorious long hours' culture and relentless pressures are taking a damaging toll on their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing."

Turnbull said the industry needs to move away from excessive working hours because it is harming people and driving talented chefs away from the profession.

"It can start by encouraging employers to apply the Working Time Regulations in full, including dropping the automatic opt-out of the 48 hour a week limit in workers' contracts," he added.

"After the general election, the next government must commit to carrying out an immediate review into the 86% cut in health and safety inspections by local authorities since 2013, because without inspections there is no one asking these questions."

Hospitality ‘only has itself to blame' for recruitment crisis >>

Hospitality leaders hit back at Guardian article which highlights poor treatment of staff >>

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