The impact of reduced working hours and furlough policies on workers’ mental health at the onset of COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal study

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

July 15, 2024


Although reduced working time and furlough policy initiatives are widely regarded as important for economic and business reasons, little is known about their impacts on workers’ mental health at the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. Using data from the UK Household Longitudinal Panel Study data from 2018 to February 2020 and April 2020 and change score analysis, this study aims to compare mental health changes between those who worked reduced hours, were furloughed and left/lost paid work. The results suggest that at the onset of COVID-19 reduced working time and furlough can protect workers’ mental health, but only for men not for women. The gender differences remain significant even after controlling for housework and childcare responsibilities at the onset of COVID-19. These results highlight the importance of distributing paid work more equitably and formulating gender-sensitive labour market policies in protection of workers’ mental health.

Published in

Journal of Social Policy

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 53 , p.702 -726






Open Access

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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