UK staff work longer hours than most EU counterparts

UK staff are still working longer hours than almost all of their European counterparts, according to new research published this week.

The UK now has the second highest number of men working more than 60 hours a week in the EU, with Ireland topping the list.

Private sector staff work significantly longer hours than public sector employees, while smaller businesses are more likely to have staff who work longer days.

The Work Foundation study, Still at Work? – An empirical test of competing theories of the long hours culture, looks at the extent of long hours worked across Europe, and how Britons compare with other members of the EU.

More than 21,000 workers were examined across 15 countries, with employees in all major occupation groups assessed, as well as workers in all industry sectors and socio-economic groups.

While the actual proportion of people working more than 60 hours a week in any one country is small, in the UK, around 896,000 men and 492,000 women still regularly work more than 60 hours a week, the report said.

Roles that ‘attract’ the highest proportion of long hours workers are administration, skilled manual work and sales.

Dr Mark Cowling, chief economist at The Work Foundation and author of the report, said this study gave the government some real food for thought.

“Most studies tend to compare the UK with the US and Japan, meaning the long hours in the UK do not seem atypical,” he said. “It is only when compared to Europe that the true extent of our working culture becomes apparent.

“Long hours cultures lead to an increase in workplace stress and a decline in productivity, as marginal productivity decreases with the number of hours worked.”

Comments are closed.