Special Report

The Length of a Typical Work Week Around the World

The amount of time workers spend at the office every week depends a great deal on the industry in which they work. But industry is just one factor determining how long people work; another is the country where they live. In some more affluent nations around the world, the typical work week for full time employees is well under 40 hours, but it is close to 50 hours in others.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the typical number of hours worked per week among full-time employees in 37 mostly affluent nations from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. We listed these countries from the shortest typical work week to the longest. 

As might be expected, workplace laws and conventions in the countries with shorter typical work weeks are often more favorable towards workers than laws in countries with longer work weeks. Countries with shorter work weeks also tend to have better overtime compensation and regulations and more favorable parental leave laws. A number of the countries on this list with shorter work weeks also happen to have substantial government-mandated vacation time. These are the countries with the most vacation time

While some find their work lives fulfilling, countries with shorter work weeks tend to have residents with higher life satisfaction. Leisure time appears to be an important contributing factor to life satisfaction — the countries with longer typical work weeks had lower life satisfaction scores based on the OECD’s annual Life Satisfaction Survey.

Many of the countries with the longest hours worked tend to have especially low minimum wages. Of the five countries with the longest typical work week, three have a minimum wage of less than $3.50. These are the wealthy countries you don’t want to work abroad in.

Click here to see how long the average work week is around the world
Click here to read our methodology