Average Working Time By Country

Working hours often vary depending on the labor laws of individual countries.
Working hours often vary depending on the labor laws of individual countries.

The amount of time that an individual spends performing paid labor is referred to as working time.

Every country strives to regulate the working hours of its citizens by putting in place laws that stipulate the maximum working hours and the minimum resting period. Countries have set in place standard working hours that limit the working hours of employees be it per day, week, month or year. Most countries in the world have average working hours of between 40 to 44 hours per week.

Some countries do, however, experience longer working hours than average. These countries will be explored below.

The source for these statistics is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Countries With The Highest Working Hours

Mexico - 2246 Hours Per Year

In Mexico, it is mandated by law that the maximum working hours is 48 per week. That accumulates to about 2246 hours per year. However, although this is the mandate of the law there are loopholes that prevent this work week from fully being implemented. Loosely enforced labor laws mean that private sector employees can even work for extra hours without extra pay. There is fear of unemployment in Mexico as well as poor treatment of employees by employers. This explains why many disregard the 48-hour work week and push themselves even further.

South Korea - 2113 Hours Per Year

The government of South Korea is working to shorten the working hours and in turn, increase the time for relaxation and leisure. The average working hours per week is 40 hours that is distributed in five working days. The government also banned companies from demanding more than 12 hours as overtime during the week and 16 hours during the weekends. Again in 2013, the government increased the number of public holidays to 16. However, although these laws may have been implemented, the average working hours was still high at 2163 annually.

Greece - 2042 Hours Per Year

Greece has the highest working hours in Europe according to OECD. The average working hours per day in Greece is 8 hours on a five-day week. According to Eurostat, employees in Greece spent an average of 42 hours per week at work compared to the benchmarked 40.3 hours. This totals to an average of 2042 hours per year. The current economic situation in Greece is also contributing to the increased demand for overtime working hours. However, Greece has 12 national holidays that are observed, reducing the working hours to some extent. That being said, Greece has still ranked the third highest country in terms of working hours.

Chile - 1988 Hours Per Year

The labor laws in Chile stipulate the working hours to be 45 distributed on a six-day week. It is lawful to work for a maximum of 10 hours (a normal 8-hour day and 2 hours of overtime). Employers who compel their employees to work longer hours more than the stipulated 10 hours are fined according to the law. The government has worked in ensuring that such rules are implemented. This rule does not apply to domestic servants and caretakers. Despite all the government efforts, OECD still ranks Chile high in terms of the average working time at 1988 hours per year.

Rules And Regulations To Protected Workers' Rights

Many countries have attempted to reduce the working hours of their citizens to be at par with the standard working hours. However, government effort has sometimes proven futile thanks to the loopholes in labor laws in many countries. Employers should be at the forefront agitating for a standardized working time for their employees as this enhance performance in the workplace. An overworked employee is a less performer compared to one that has had enough rest. Likewise to employees, they should have enough rest time so as to interact with their families and develop the family bond.

There is still much to be done as working hours are concerned. The hindrance has always been conflicts of interest from both parties. Employees are known to use working hours for personal business, and employers are known to force employees to overwork for more profits. Thus, further rules and regulations need to be implemented by the government of these countries to ensure the interests of both the employers and employees are protected.

Average Working Time By Country

RankCountryAverage Hours Worked (Per Year)
2South Korea2113
13United States1790
15New Zealand1757
16Slovak Republic1754
23United Kingdom1674

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