The countries that work the longest – and shortest – hours

We might be used to working between nine and five in the United Kingdom, but which countries have the longest – and shortest – working hours?

A new study by Instant Offices has revealed the differences in working practices around the world, with the length of the working week varying dramatically between nations.

Mexico – where the average employee works 43 hours in a week – topped the list, while Germany’s average 26-hour week was the shortest in the report.

Germans also have the most annual leave, with an average of 30 days off each year. Meanwhile, a quarter of workers in America are not guaranteed any paid time off.

Americans companies are also not obliged to give paid maternity leave to their workers. The average worker in the States takes ten days or fewer off work when their baby is born.

Paternity leave is compulsory for fathers in Portugal, Chile and Italy, while German employees with newborn children are able to take a break from work for up to 12 months, with an additional 24 months able to be taken unpaid.

The study also looked at the length of employees’ lunch breaks. French workers were found to have the longest, with some breaks known to reach two hours in length, while sit-down meals and lunchtime beers are regularly seen in Germany.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

The UK and US workforces were found to have the least time to eat their lunches, with British workers having an average of between 15 and 30 minutes to eat.

The study also highlighted differences in practices for employees’ personal time. France and Germany, for example, have both passed laws that forbid companies from contacting their employees outside of work hours unless it is an emergency.

Similarly, overtime is not commonplace in France, although more senior workers may be more likely to work beyond normal office hours if needed.

See the infographic below, from Instant Offices, for more.

Photo © John Philip Green (CC BY 2.0). Cropped.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024