“Clopening” is the newest trend in the service industry. In order to shave costs by relying on fewer employees, many employers are scheduling the same person to close up a restaurant at midnight, only to return in seven hours to open. Clopening exists in more industries than just hospitality: retail, security, construction, and nursing are using the practice, as well. The harsh consequences of clopening affect more than just the weary service worker; they affect us all in detrimental ways.
(Photo Credit: Aaron Jacobs/Flickr)
Requiring workers to go without down time and sleep is a safety hazard for us all. While the hazards of falling asleep at the wheel are obvious, driving while drowsy causes the same inattention and response time problems as drunk driving and texting while driving. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 5,000 to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.
If a waitress is exhausted, she may get your order wrong. If a nurse is exhausted, he may unintentionally kill you. A University of Pennsylvania study found medical errors are more likely to occur when nurses work more than 40 hours per week or long, 12-hour hospital shifts, during which errors can triple.
Clopening causes lack of sleep. Lack of sleep causes our immune systems to weaken, increasing the chance we will get sick. Employers trying to save money by having fewer employees and making them work inhumane hours may be making things more expensive for us all, as low-income, ill employees seek care and services that would not have been necessary had they enjoyed humane work schedules.
Lack of sleep may contribute to mental illness, as well. Traditionally, psychologists have recognized lack of sleep as a symptom of illness; however, sometimes lack of sleep causes other symptoms. When the sleep problems are corrected, the other symptoms go away.
And let’s not forget depression. It is extremely depressing to work inhumane hours and give up time with children and family in order to work through a sleep-deprived fog.
The The New York Times reports that concerns about the health and welfare of employees have gained traction and translated into legislative proposals in several states, with proponents enviously pointing to the standard adopted for workers in the 28-nation European Union. It establishes “a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period.” Perhaps in America, we could learn a thing or two about the humane treatment of workers.
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