Global Economics

'New' Europeans Work the Longest Hours


A study finds that in the newest members of the EU employees work longer hours and get less vacation time than in 'Old' Europe

Europe is still divided when it comes to working hours. According to a recent study, the newest members of the European Union put in the most time on the job, while many of the Union's long-time members give their workers more time off and less time at work.

In a study published Wednesday by Dublin-based EU think tank Eurofound, official and reported work hours were compared across the EU. Europe's hardest workers, at least in terms of hours spent on the job? Full-time workers in Romania and Bulgaria, the EU's newest members, put in 41.7 hours a week. Germany ranked 6th, with workers reporting 41.1 hours a week spent at work.

The report, which analyzed statistical data from all of the EU member countries, found that the 15 pre-2004 members of the EU spend an average of 39. 5 hours a week on the job, while people in the 12 new member states work 40.6 hours on average. Of the top 10 countries, seven—Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Hungary—joined the EU after 2004.

Western Europeans aren't all slackers—the UK ranked third on the list, and Austria and Germany were both in the top ten. At the bottom of the list was France, where workers put in a not-so-grueling 37.7 hours a week.

The study also looked at hours in specific sectors, like retail and civil service. French salespeople work 35 hours a week, while Europe's least-busy bureaucrats are the Italians, whose civil servants spend 32.9 hours a week on the job.

Vacation time also varies dramatically from country to country. Swedes have a generous 33 days per year of paid vacation, while Estonians get just 20. Germans rank high here, too—third on Eurofound's list, with 30 days per year.

agc -- with wire reports

Provided by Spiegel Online—Read the latest from Europe's largest newsmagazine

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