OTTAWA - Employers may be concerned about lost productivity from Ontario's new Family Day, but one expert says the Feb. 18 statutory holiday could pay off in the long run.

Roderic Beaujot, a sociology professor at the University of Western Ontario, says employees are working more hours these days and that could lead to burnout and early retirement.

He adds that working fewer hours doesn't have much effect on productivity or unemployment, but can make a big difference to work-life balance.

"There's the possibility of having a less stressful life if we are to work less hours or the hours of work are shorter,'' said Beaujot, who co-authored a study on time-crunch and the impact of work on family.

"I think it would be better from the point of view of the whole society if people worked longer rather than retiring at age 55 or 60.''

He noted that some countries, like France, have already reduced workers' hours.

Economics professor Frank Reid of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto said the holiday may be expensive for employers. However, he said much of the money will be made up and customers will likely just buy on the days around the holiday anyway.

"So to just sort of look at the normal sales on that day and attribute that to kind of a loss in income or production I think tends to overstate the sort of negative impacts on the economy.''

Beaujot said employers may be frustrated at having to pay employees for a day they aren't working, but thinks employers will accept it over time.

"It could mean that (employees) work longer rather than trying to finish their work at age 55 or to get away from work as soon as they can,'' he said.

"And so it increases the total amount of hours they work over their lifetime, even though it decreases the amount of hours they work in a given year.''