Lawyers and other legal professionals put in the equivalent of eight working days a week, a survey has revealed. And two-fifths of them feel more stressed by work than they did a year ago.

In a survey of more than 2,000 British employees, international recruiter Randstad found that legal professionals each do the job of 1.6 people, or the equivalent of three extra working days a week. In contrast, British workers across all professions said that they currently cover the work of 1.3 people, the equivalent of a six-and-a-half day week.

Two in five legal professionals told researchers that they feel more stressed than they did six months ago, and a broadly similar number said that it now takes them longer to switch off at weekends. One in eight employees said they consistently sleep poorly because of work worries or stress.

Less than half of legal professionals have been able to take more than a week off work this year for their main holiday, and nearly one in five of those said they took calls or checked emails while on holiday. One in eight worry about what is happening at work during their time off.

Randstad Financial & Professional managing director Tara Ricks said: ‘While keeping legal workforces as lean as possible may help many law firms navigate the choppy economic waters the UK is currently experiencing, it isn’t a sustainable model. Making fewer people work harder can improve the bottom line initially, but spreading the workforce too thin leads to burnout, lower productivity and mistakes in the long-run – not an end result law firms can afford.’

The survey of 2,001 people, which included 127 legal professionals, was carried out between 23-30 July 2012.