Not much flexibility in working time arrangements

The National Statistics Office published survey findings regarding the different working time arrangements in the Maltese labour market. The study reveals that the average number of hours normally worked is 38.1 hours per week. However, 7.2% of all Maltese employees work more than their usual hours due to overtime. The average number of overtime hours is 9.7 hours per week.

In August 2005, the National Statistics Office (NSO) published survey findings in a news release outlining the different working time arrangements of workers in the Maltese labour market. As it is possible to measure working time arrangements in various ways, the NSO report recorded the number of hours normally or actually worked.

About the survey

The study presents the different aspects of working time arrangements. It refers to the various patterns of employment, namely the number of hours actually worked in a week, month or year, the stability and flexibility of working time, and the schedule of hours worked during the week and year.

In terms of methodology, the study contains data from an ad hoc module on working time arrangements, conducted in 2004 as part of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The NSO carries out the LFS on an ongoing basis with the aim of having a continuous assessment of labour market trends. For the ad hoc module, a subsample of data from the LFS was extracted.

Survey findings

Hours worked

Table 1 shows that the average number of hours normally worked is 38.1 hours per week. The term ‘normal hours worked’ refers to the standard working hours, whereas the term ‘actual hours worked’ refers to the actual number of hours that employees spend at the workplace. The latter takes into account hours which, although paid, are not worked, such as vacation and sick leave. Thus, the average number of hours actually worked is slightly less than the normal hours worked, amounting to 36.5 hours per week.

Table 1: Hours worked
Hours worked
Hours worked Men Women Total
Average per week Average per week Average per week
Normal hours 39.7 34.4 38.1
Actual hours 38.1 33.1 36.5

Source: NSO news release, No. 166/2005, August 2005

Working patterns

The type of working pattern is an important aspect of working time arrangements. As Table 2 shows, the majority of Maltese employees (75%) report a normal working pattern, that is, they work fixed hours. Some 10.7% of the total employees work a number of core hours with some variation in the start and end times of the working day. Employees enjoying more autonomy at work can determine their own working schedule. A relatively small proportion of workers, at 7.7%, benefit from such flexibility.

Table 2: Working time arrangements of employees
Working time arrangements of employees
Arrangement Men Women Total
Number % Number % Number %
Fixed hours 74,655 72.6 37,001 80.2 111,656 75.0
Core hours with variable start/end time 12,610 12.3 3,278 7.1 15,888 10.7
Flexible working time with possibility to take hours/days off 1,954 1.9 617 1.3 2,571 1.7
Can determine own work schedule 9,316 9.1 2,194 4.8 11,510 7.7
Other working hours 4,211 4.1 3,035 6.6 7,246 4.9
Total 102,746 100.0 46,125 100.0 148,871 100.0

Source: NSO news release, No. 166/2005, August 2005

Type of employment

Table 3 presents the type of employment of the total employed population. Although full-time employment is the most common type of employment among the Maltese workforce, part-time work is an increasing feature in the labour market, especially among women. Table 3 shows that 12,937 persons worked either part time or full time with reduced hours, of whom 8,384 were women.

Table 3: Type of employment of employees
Type of employment of employees
Type of employment Men Women Total
Number % Number % Number %
Full time 98,193 95.5 37,741 81.8 135,934 91.3
Full time with reduced hours 583 0.6 621 1.4 1,204 0.8
Part time 3,970 3.9 7,763 16.8 11,733 7.9
Total 102,746 100.0 46,125 100.0 148,871 100.0

Source: NSO news release, No. 166/2005, August 2005

Commentary

These data findings present an interesting picture of working time arrangements in Malta. Perhaps most importantly, they show that the majority of the working population has fixed working hours. Furthermore, men tend to benefit from innovative and flexible working time more than women. This situation does not facilitate the employment of Maltese women who often have to take responsibility for more family commitments than men do.

This survey was a one-off research module. However, the NSO should carry out similar research on a regular basis in order to assess the rate and type of change in working time arrangements among Malta’s workforce.

Further information

For more information at European level, see the topic report Combining family and full-time work (TN0510TR02).

Christine Farrugia and Manwel Debono, Centre for Labour Studies

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