Long hours could lead to stressBetween 2007 and 2008, 13.5 million working days in the UK were missed by employees due to work-related stress, depression and anxiety, it has been claimed.

Speaking on behalf of Aviva, James Draper, principal consultant for ARMS, said that 59 per cent of employers did not associate longer hours with productivity, while 46 per cent did not reward their staff for working late or out of hours, a figure he found "disturbing".

"Training and development programmes should be implemented through human resources departments to improve time management and delegation. Top management behaviour and commitment should also be encouraged to change the business culture to raise awareness of the issue," he noted.

Mr Draper went on to state that longer working hours could cause severe problems such as musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disorders, chronic infections, depression, stress, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Alex Marshall, business development manager for Aviva’s UK occupational health, said employers should be encouraging a healthy work-life balance.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, recently claimed that in-house support or employee assistance programmes should be offered in the workplace to help workers having difficulty dealing with stress.