- Observatory: EurWORK
- Working time,
- Working conditions,
- Industrial relations,
- Law and regulation,
- Date of Publication: 16 August 2017
This annual review covers several issues related to working time in the EU and Norway in 2015 and 2016. It is based mainly on contributions from Eurofound’s Network of Eurofound Correspondents (NEC).
The report looks at the following:
- main developments resulting from legislative reforms or changes and from collective bargaining at national or sectoral level
- average weekly working hours set by collective agreements, both economy-wide and for five specific sectors of economic activity: metalworking, chemicals, banking, retail trade and public administration
- statutory limits on weekly and daily working time
- average actual weekly working hours
- annual leave entitlements, as set by collective agreements and law
- estimates of average collectively agreed annual working time.
After briefly presenting the major developments that took place between 2015 and 2016, the report provides a general overview of the present status of the duration of working time as a result of collective bargaining. The report complements Eurofound’s database of wages, working time and collective disputes, which provides information since the year 2000 about the systems in place defining working time as well as some of the main outcomes of these systems. In addition, the report updates and complements the report Working time developments in the 21st century, which covers data on some aspects of working time, including collectively agreed working hours between 2000 and 2014.
The figures provided in this review should be interpreted with caution, and the various notes and explanations should always borne in mind. Making international comparisons regarding the length of collectively agreed working time is difficult because comparable data are not collected in all countries, When data are available, data from different sources are not strictly comparable. Additional deterring factors for such direct comparison are:
- different reference periods (annual, monthly, weekly) for calculating working time
- the reduction of working time in some countries, introduced through extra days off or cuts in annual hours, leaving the normal working week relatively unchanged
- an increasing use of schemes whereby weekly hours may vary considerably, with an average being maintained over a different reference period
- the treatment of part-time workers
- the differing roles of collective bargaining and legislation, with legislation having an impact on actual hours in some countries, but setting only a maximum ‘safety net’ in others.
Figures for normal weekly working hours are also problematic when working time in different countries is compared: these figures do not take into account factors such as overtime, the length of annual leave (and other forms of leave), or the use of flexible forms of working time organisation.