Further to yesterday’s post, BBC News two months ago posted a chart based on figures that were gathered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) from its 34 members. Comparison of working hours for a larger number of countries is difficult because of the lack of comparable data.
The full OECD data for 2000-2011 can be downloaded here.
Wesley Stephenson of BBC radio’s More or Less programme does an excellent job explaining what these numbers mean.
A look at the average annual hours worked per person in selected countries [those of the OECD] puts South Korea top with a whopping 2,193 hours, followed by Chile on 2,068. ….
“Over the last century, you’ve seen a reduction from very long working hours – nearly 3,000 a year at the beginning of the 1900s – to the turn of the 21st Century when most developing countries were under 1,800 hours,” says [Jon] Messenger [an ILO expert on working hours]. ….
The drop in working hours is in part a reflection of the greater number of part-time workers in the developed world. A large number of part-time workers brings down a country’s average – in the case of Japan, for example, a high proportion of people work excessive hours, but many also work part-time, leaving the country in the middle of the table, with 1,700 hours. ….
Messenger says the average Briton works 150 fewer hours than an American.
“The difference is really driven by the fact that the US is the only developed country that has no legal or contractual or collective requirement to provide any minimum amount of annual leave,” he says.
The UK, in contrast, is subject to the European working time directive, which requires at least four weeks of paid annual leave for every employee.
Wesley Stephenson, “Who works the longest hours?“, BBC News, 23 May 2012.