The website of the ICOH Committee on Shiftwork and Working Time, a committee of the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH)

A Brief History of the Working Time Society

The Working Time Society (WTS) and the Scientific Committee on “Shiftwork and Working Time” of the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH-SC SW&WT) are twin associations focused on studies, research and practices regarding psycho-social aspects and health problems connected with night and shift work and - more generally - with working hours.Svensson set up the ICOH committee  Rutenfranz "revived" it with the 3rd symposium held in Dortmund in 1974

The WTS was established in 2001 as a parallel organisation, aimed at including all the other social actors (i.e. psychologists, sociologists, managers, unionists) interested in working time related issues. It was established with the stated objectives of:
  • Discussing both basic and applied problems
  • To act as an advisory committee for national and international bodies
  • To promote cooperative efforts for the solution of occupational work problems in this particular area.

The main occasions for debating and exchanging knowledge, experiences, and new trends on these topics has been the International Symposia, held since 1969 on a biannual basis all over the world: Oslo (Norway) in 1969, Slanchev Bryag (Bulgaria) in 1971, Dortmund (Germany) in 1974 and 1977, Rouen (France) in 1980, Kyoto (Japan) in 1982, Igls (Austria) in 1985, Krakow (Poland) in 1987, Verona (Italy) in 1989, Sheffield (UK) in 1991, Melbourne (Australia) in 1994, Ledyard (USA) in 1995, Maijvik (Finland) in 1997, Wiesensteig (Germany) in 1999, Hayama (Japan) in 2001, Santos (Brazil) in 2003, Hoofddorp (The Netherlands) in 2005, Yeppoon (Australia) in 2007, Venice (Italy) in 2009, Stockholm (Sweden) in 2011.


The proceedings of these symposia were published in several books and scientific journals, dealing with Occupational Medicine, Public health, Stress and Psychosocial risk factors, Work Physiology, Work Psychology, Sociology, Work organisation and management, and have significantly contributed to improving working hour arrangements more respectful of human health and social well-being, as well as enhancing individual coping strategies and resources.

They also provided scientific basis for new directives and legislations issued on working time, such as, for example, the Night Work Convention no 171 and Recommendation no 178 concerning Night Work by the International Labour Office (ILO, 1990), and the European Parliament and  Council Directives 1993/104/EC and 2003/88/EC “concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time”, as well as many national laws and work contracts in several countries.

To date their have been more than 20 symposia all over the world. The first symposium in 1969 had about 30 participants, however by 2011 the symposium in Stockholm attracted 240 participants from 30 countries. 

For a more in depth look at the history of the Working Time Society and the symposia in particular, download the pdf file of the presentation given byGiovanni Costa, the WTS ex-President, in 2005.

Working Time Society - Internationale Gesellschaft für Arbeitszeit

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