Long-hours culture still a major issue for UK employees

UK employees are still working some of the longest hours in Europe, according to a major study of working time across the European Union (EU).

The annual study by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions found the average number of hours worked per week by full-time UK employees in 2007 was 41.4. Only workers in Bulgaria and Romania worked longer hours.

The average across the 27 countries that make up the EU was 40 hours per week. The lowest weekly working hours were found in France, Italy and Denmark.

The report also looks at working time agreements set by collective bargaining with trade unions. Across the EU, average collectively agreed weekly working time stood at 38.6 hours.

There is still a substantial gap in working time between Western Europe and the majority of the new member states in Eastern Europe, according to the report. The average in the existing countries stood at 37.9 hours in 2007 (the same as in 2006), compared with 39.6 hours in the accession states.

The average number of fully paid holidays in Europe is 25.2 days per year, the report said.

A report by the Chartered Management Institute earlier this year, based on the views of 1,511 managers, showed that 89% regularly worked more than their contracted hours – a figure that has barely fallen since 2000.

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