Business

UK employees work longer hours than most EU neighbours

  • 8 December 2011
  • From the section Business
Crane
The ONS found that crane drivers work the longest hours

Full-time employees in the UK work longer hours than the European Union average, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

The UK average of 42.7 hours compares with 41.6 across the EU.

Only employees in Austria and Greece put in a longer working week, with both at 43.7 hours.

The country with the shortest hours worked by full-time employees was Denmark, at 39.1.

The ONS said that across the whole UK workforce average hours worked were 36.3 per week, down 4.7% from 38.1 hours per week in 1992.

The report said that the change was driven by a mixture of structural changes in the economy, and more workplace flexibility and part-time jobs.

The UK also has the highest percentage of part-time workers at 27%, compared with 20% in the EU as a whole, after increasing from 24% in 1992.

Managers and senior officials worked on average for 46.2 hours, although 7.6 hours were unpaid, said the ONS said.

Factory workers and those in lower-skilled jobs worked 44 and 41 hours a week respectively, with little unpaid overtime.

The ONS said that data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) showed that crane drivers had the longest working week, at 52.8 hours.

This was followed by heavy goods vehicles drivers at 48.4 hours per week, and mobile machine drivers and operatives at 48 hours.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said the figures highlighted the extra hours many people work, but which often go unrewarded.

"Employers should do more to recognise the unpaid overtime that their staff do, which contributes £29bn to the UK economy every year," he said.

"But while average hours are falling across the economy - both as a result of the recession and changes in working practices - UK workers are still doing the third longest shifts in Europe."

He said that "pointless presenteeism" often kept people at work unnecessarily.

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