Goldman Sachs 'inhuman' work hours shows need for HR

Employees at investment bank Goldman Sachs have spoken out over the working conditions they have experienced during their first year at the company, saying they were averaging 95-hour work weeks.

Responses to a working conditions survey distributed around the bank revealed shocking details of the day-to-day life of employees.

Employees were reportedly also sleeping for only five hours a night and their physical and mental health also suffered due to over-working.

The group of young analysts said they would leave the firm unless an 80-hour week cap was introduced to end what they called ‘inhuman’ work conditions. 

While David Solomon, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said it was great the analysts raised their concerns, he added that going an extra mile can help the business.

“Just remember, if we all go an extra mile for our client, even when we feel that we're reaching our limit, it can really make a difference in our performance," he said to BBC News.

Joseph Lappin, head of employment a law firm Stewarts, said HR teams are needed to ensure all employers fulfil their obligation to take reasonable care for the health and safety of their staff.

Speaking to HR magazine he said: “The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 imposes a statutory duty on employers to provide a safe working environment.

“Employers may fall foul of these duties if they insist that staff work incredibly long hours given the likely adverse impact that long working hours will have on one’s mental and physical health.”

Lappin also said staff who become unwell as a result of working long hours may have a number of employment claims.

In response to the working conditions survey, one respondent said: “The sleep deprivation, the treatment by senior bankers, the mental and physical stress... I’ve been through foster care and this is arguably worse.”

The majority (77%) of respondents also said they had experienced forms of workplace abuse, such as excessive monitoring or micromanagement, while 17% said they frequently experienced shouting or swearing.

Lappin said, employers need to take employees complaints about overworking and abuse seriously.

He said: “Depending on the circumstances, employees who are asked to work excessively long hours suffer from a serious depressive episode which may amount to a psychiatric injury giving rise to a personal injury claim.

“An unreasonable instruction to work excessively long hours may be a breach of the implied term of trust of confidence between employee and employer giving rise to a constructive unfair dismissal.”

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