The UK’s long-hours culture is a myth and it is just as easy to argue that
the UK has a ‘short-hours culture’ when compared with other European countries.
That is the view of John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development, in the latest Work Audit Report.
Philpott analysed the facts surrounding the country’s working hours in
response to persistent claims about the UK’s long-hours culture.
He argues that the long-hours debate gives a distorted picture of working
time in the UK and often results in faulty policies.
The report says the average working week has actually reduced by more than
an hour since the mid-1990s, with the proportion of people who usually work
more than 45 hours per week dropping from 25.8 per cent to 22.4 per cent.
Philpott also argues that when making comparisons with other European Union
countries it is important to look at the spread of working hours.
"The best policy response to over-work is to encourage a restructuring
of working hours, rather than to impose a substantial cut in the length of the
working week, as recommended by supporters of a French-style statutory 35-hour
week," he said.