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Average working hours in Europe: Which countries work the longest and shortest weeks?

The Balkan countries work the longest weeks while the Nordic countries have some of the shortest workweeks
The Balkan countries work the longest weeks while the Nordic countries have some of the shortest workweeks Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Servet Yanatma
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The average hours worked per week in Europe vary widely. Countries with higher part-time workers, in particular, reported shorter average workweeks.

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How many hours do you work per week? New data from Eurostat, the EU’s official statistics office, shows that the average working hours across Europe vary widely from country to country. 

Patterns of work have been changing in recent years. Rates of working from home increased in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some companies now provide more flexible options to work remotely

Four-day weeks with the same workload have also been on trial in several countries. In 2022, employed people in the EU aged 20-64 years worked 36.2 hours on average per week. This was 24 minutes less than the pre-pandemic figures of 2019.

So, which countries have the longest and shortest working hours?

In 2022, the average number of actual weekly working hours in a main job in the EU ranged from 32.4 hours in the Netherlands to 39.7 hours in Greece and Romania. This included both full-time and part-time workers aged 20-64 years.

People in Balkan countries work the longest weeks

When the European countries for which this information is available were compared, Turkey had the longest working weeks at 42.9 hours in 2020, which is the latest data.

Turkey was followed by Montenegro (42.8 hours, 2020 data) and Serbia (42.3 hours). These are the countries having average working weeks of longer than 40 hours.

Greece and Romania were followed by Poland (39.5 hours), Bulgaria (39.2 hours) and North Macedonia (39 hours).

This all suggests that people in Balkan countries have the longest average working hours per week.

The shortest weeks: Netherlands, Austria, and Norway

In the list of countries with the shortest average working weeks in 2022, the Netherlands (32.4 hours) was followed by Austria (33.7 hours), Norway (34.1 hours) and Denmark and Germany (both 34.6 hours).

How many hours do people work in the UK, France, and Spain?

The UK (36.4 hours in 2019) had the same amount of average working hours as the EU. France and Italy (both 36.2 hours) had slightly lower figures than the EU. People in Spain worked 36.5 hours per week, which was only 6 minutes more than the EU average.

The five Nordic countries all had shorter average working weeks than the EU average.

Average working week: Full-time versus part-time

Differences in average working weeks among EU countries vary according to the employment type, namely full-time or part-time.

For full-time employment, average working hours per week ranged from 37.4 hours in Finland to 41.3 hours across all EU countries in 2022.

When the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and EU candidate countries are included, Turkey (46 hours) had the longest average working week, followed by Serbia (43.5 hours) and Montenegro and Switzerland (both 43.4 hours).

The UK (41 hours, 2019 data) and Germany (39.5 hours) had higher average working hours than the EU (39.3) among full-time workers whereas Italy (39.2 hours), Spain (39.1 hours) and France (38.7 hours) had lower figures.

For part-time employment, the average working week varied from 17.8 hours in Portugal to 27 hours in Romania across EU countries in 2022. The EU average was 21.8 hours. 

Part-time employed people worked 22.8 hours in France, 21.4 hours in Germany and 20.2 hours in the UK. Turkey (17.4 hours) had the shortest average working week in this category.

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Employment type influences the average working week

Different legal arrangements and the typical length of working weeks may influence how many hours people work per week on average. More importantly, the different shares of part-time workers across countries affect the results. Eurostat found that countries with higher shares of part-time workers reported shorter average working weeks for the total number of people employed.

The graph above shows a strong negative correlation between these two indicators. In 2022, the share of part-time workers in total employment was 38.4 per cent in the Netherlands, which was the highest rate in the EU, while the average working week there for the total employed was 32.4 hours, which was the shortest time in the EU.

Gender differences in working hours

There are considerable gender differences in average working weeks across European countries. This includes both full-time and part-time employed people aged 20-64 years.

Among the gender differences, male workers had longer average working weeks than female workers in all countries in 2022. The most significant difference among EU countries was in the Netherlands, with a gap of 8.5 hours. 

The highest gap in all of Europe was in Switzerland, at 9.7 hours, whereas the shortest gap was recorded in Bulgaria at 0.5 hours. The average gap in the EU was 5.1 hours.

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Average working hours per week in a main job for men and women (2022) (both full-time and part-time workers aged 20-64)

Among men, the shortest average working week was in the Netherlands and Norway (both 36.4 years), whereas it was the longest in Turkey at 44.8 hours. The EU average was 38.4 hours, and men in Greece had the most weekly working hours in the EU at 41.7 hours.

Among women, the longest average working week was in Montenegro (41.7 hours). The EU average was 33.6 hours. Women in the Netherlands (27.9 hours) had the shortest average working week in the EU, whereas Romania (39.3 hours) had the longest.

Working 49 hours or more per week

The share of employed people including both full-time and part-time usually working 49 hours or more per week is also a useful indicator. In the EU, 7.4 per cent of employed people worked long hours in their main jobs in 2022. 

This ranged from 0.7 per cent in Bulgaria to 12.6 per cent in Greece across EU countries.

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When other European countries are included, Turkey had the highest rate at 28.1 per cent, followed by the UK and Iceland, where 14.1 per cent of employed people worked 49 hours or more per week.

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