Special Report

How Long the Typical Work Week Is Around the World

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the length of the workweek in the United States, with many workers forced to move to part time or otherwise change hours as a result of largely remote work. 

Some companies — both in the United States and in other parts of the world — have already made the choice to move to a four-day workweek. Tech giant Google recently announced plans to consider the idea of a flexible workweek after the pandemic is brought under control, requiring employees to be in the office three days a week and allowing them to work from home the rest of the time.  

It will take some time before we know what the work week will look like post-pandemic, but no doubt it will likely vary widely from worker to worker, company to company, and sector to sector.

It is not, however, just industry and company that determine the length of the workweek. The country where one lives and works plays an important role in how much time people spend at the office. Differences between national labor laws, work culture, industry composition, unemployment, and poverty all affect how much people work, on average, in one country compared to another. In some of the more affluent nations around the world, the average workweek 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 43 mostly affluent nations from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. We listed these countries from the shortest typical workweek to the longest. 

National differences in workplace laws and conventions have a major impact on how much people actually work. In the United States, any time worked over 40 hours per week is considered overtime and must be compensated at a higher rate by law. Other countries vary in their legal full-time workweek length. France, which has one of the shortest average weekly hours worked on this list, in 2000 shortened its workweek from 39 hours to 35.

A number of the countries on this list with shorter workweeks also happen to have substantial government-mandated vacation time. These are the countries with the most vacation time

People work to earn a living, and in countries where earning a living wage takes longer, working hours tend to be longer. In Chile and Mexico, which have among the longest average workweeks on this list, average annual wages adjusted for U.S. dollars in 2019 were $26,916 and $17,594. Meanwhile, countries like Denmark and Norway, which have average wages in excess of $50,000, have among the shortest average workweeks. 

The United States is a notable exception to this rule — with a high average salary but also a relatively long average workweek. This in part can be attributed to the country’s high income inequality — the high average national income is skewed by high-earning Americans and ignores the millions of struggling Americans — and also to the country’s labor laws and practices that are unique among highly affluent nations. The U.S. is one of the few affluent nations to have no federally mandated paid time off. It is the only country in the OECD, and one of the very few in the world, to offer no paid maternity leave.

Click here to see how long the typical work week is around the world.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.

Source: FlamingoImages / iStock via Getty Images

1. Denmark
> Average work week (full-time employees): 37.0 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 7.0%
> Workforce that is part-time: 19.3%
> Unemployment rate: 5.1%
> Avg. annual wages: $57,150

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2. Netherlands
> Average work week (full-time employees): 37.3 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 28.5%
> Workforce that is part-time: 38.3%
> Unemployment rate: 3.4%
> Avg. annual wages: $56,552

Source: Leonardo Patrizi / E+ via Getty Images

3. Norway
> Average work week (full-time employees): 37.8 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 8.6%
> Workforce that is part-time: 19.9%
> Unemployment rate: 3.7%
> Avg. annual wages: $54,027

Source: urbazon / E+ via Getty Images

4. Belgium
> Average work week (full-time employees): 38.8 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 28.6%
> Workforce that is part-time: 17.9%
> Unemployment rate: 5.4%
> Avg. annual wages: $55,590

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5. France
> Average work week (full-time employees): 39.0 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 29.0%
> Workforce that is part-time: 13.4%
> Unemployment rate: 8.5%
> Avg. annual wages: $46,481

Source: Geber86 / E+ via Getty Images

6. Sweden
> Average work week (full-time employees): 39.0 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 61.1%
> Workforce that is part-time: 13.2%
> Unemployment rate: 6.8%
> Avg. annual wages: $46,695

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7. Finland
> Average work week (full-time employees): 39.3 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 35.2%
> Workforce that is part-time: 13.1%
> Unemployment rate: 6.7%
> Avg. annual wages: $45,698

Source: ROMAOSLO / Getty Images

8. Italy
> Average work week (full-time employees): 39.4 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 53.7%
> Workforce that is part-time: 19.5%
> Unemployment rate: 10.0%
> Avg. annual wages: $39,189

Source: LucVi / Getty Images

9. Spain
> Average work week (full-time employees): 39.4 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 60.9%
> Workforce that is part-time: 14.0%
> Unemployment rate: 14.1%
> Avg. annual wages: $38,758

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Source: alvarez / E+ via Getty Images

10. Germany
> Average work week (full-time employees): 39.4 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 47.9%
> Workforce that is part-time: 22.3%
> Unemployment rate: 3.2%
> Avg. annual wages: $53,638

Source: PeopleImages / E+ via Getty Images

11. Ireland
> Average work week (full-time employees): 39.7 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 37.6%
> Workforce that is part-time: 21.5%
> Unemployment rate: 5.0%
> Avg. annual wages: $50,490

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12. Luxembourg
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.0 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 80.4%
> Workforce that is part-time: 11.3%
> Unemployment rate: 5.6%
> Avg. annual wages: $68,681

Source: pedrosz / Flickr

13. Austria
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.1 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 46.9%
> Workforce that is part-time: 20.2%
> Unemployment rate: 4.5%
> Avg. annual wages: $53,903

Source: ewg3D / iStock via Getty Images

14. Lithuania
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.1 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 90.2%
> Workforce that is part-time: 5.7%
> Unemployment rate: 6.3%
> Avg. annual wages: $28,914

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Source: KavalenkavaVolha / Getty Images

15. Latvia
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.1 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 90.5%
> Workforce that is part-time: 6.0%
> Unemployment rate: 6.3%
> Avg. annual wages: $28,454

Source: gorodenkoff / iStock via Getty Images

16. Estonia
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.1 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 84.3%
> Workforce that is part-time: 9.2%
> Unemployment rate: 4.4%
> Avg. annual wages: $30,297

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Source: Yasonya / iStock via Getty Images

17. Hungary
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.3 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 94.0%
> Workforce that is part-time: 3.9%
> Unemployment rate: 3.5%
> Avg. annual wages: $26,223

Source: dramalens / iStock via Getty Images

18. Croatia
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.3 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 72.1%
> Workforce that is part-time: N/A
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

Source: GrapeImages / E+ via Getty Images

19. Slovak Republic
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.4 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 72.8%
> Workforce that is part-time: 5.1%
> Unemployment rate: 5.8%
> Avg. annual wages: $25,452

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Source: yoh4nn / E+ via Getty Images

20. Czech Republic
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.4 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 79.8%
> Workforce that is part-time: 4.9%
> Unemployment rate: 2.0%
> Avg. annual wages: $29,281

Source: funky-data / E+ via Getty Images

21. Switzerland
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.5 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 60.4%
> Workforce that is part-time: 25.9%
> Unemployment rate: 4.4%
> Avg. annual wages: $66,567

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Source: Bogdanhoda / iStock via Getty Images

22. Romania
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.6 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 99.0%
> Workforce that is part-time: N/A
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

Source: sanjeri / E+ via Getty Images

23. Slovenia
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.6 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 90.9%
> Workforce that is part-time: 6.6%
> Unemployment rate: 4.5%
> Avg. annual wages: $40,220

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

24. Portugal
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.7 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 75.4%
> Workforce that is part-time: 5.3%
> Unemployment rate: 6.6%
> Avg. annual wages: $26,634

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Source: Kisa_Markiza / Getty Images

25. Bulgaria
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.7 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 97.7%
> Workforce that is part-time: N/A
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

Source: holgs / Getty Images

26. Poland
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.8 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 91.1%
> Workforce that is part-time: 5.2%
> Unemployment rate: 3.3%
> Avg. annual wages: $31,970

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Source: hobo_018 / E+ via Getty Images

27. Malta
> Average work week (full-time employees): 40.9 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 80.4%
> Workforce that is part-time: N/A
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

28. Cyprus
> Average work week (full-time employees): 41.1 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 63.0%
> Workforce that is part-time: N/A
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

Source: Kisa_Markiza / Getty Images

29. Greece
> Average work week (full-time employees): 41.3 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 79.7%
> Workforce that is part-time: 12.7%
> Unemployment rate: 17.3%
> Avg. annual wages: $27,459

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30. United States
> Average work week (full-time employees): 41.5 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 77.3%
> Workforce that is part-time: 12.4%
> Unemployment rate: 3.7%
> Avg. annual wages: $65,836

Source: AleksandarGeorgiev / iStock via Getty Images

31. FYR of Macedonia
> Average work week (full-time employees): 41.5 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 98.3%
> Workforce that is part-time: N/A
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

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Source: SolStock / E+ via Getty Images

32. United Kingdom
> Average work week (full-time employees): 41.8 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 45.1%
> Workforce that is part-time: 22.1%
> Unemployment rate: 3.8%
> Avg. annual wages: $47,226

Source: Tempura / E+ via Getty Images

33. Australia
> Average work week (full-time employees): 41.8 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 43.0%
> Workforce that is part-time: 24.7%
> Unemployment rate: 5.2%
> Avg. annual wages: $54,401

Source: nazar_ab / iStock via Getty Images

34. New Zealand
> Average work week (full-time employees): 42.5 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 67.1%
> Workforce that is part-time: 18.2%
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%
> Avg. annual wages: $44,031

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Source: PeopleImages / E+ via Getty Images

35. Brazil
> Average work week (full-time employees): 42.5 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 77.6%
> Workforce that is part-time: 12.2%
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

Source: Boyloso / Getty Images

36. Iceland
> Average work week (full-time employees): 42.7 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 71.1%
> Workforce that is part-time: 15.7%
> Unemployment rate: 3.5%
> Avg. annual wages: $68,006

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Source: silverjohn / Getty Images

37. Israel
> Average work week (full-time employees): 44.3 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 73.7%
> Workforce that is part-time: 14.6%
> Unemployment rate: 3.8%
> Avg. annual wages: $39,403

Source: PeopleImages / E+ via Getty Images

38. South Africa
> Average work week (full-time employees): 44.9 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 85.8%
> Workforce that is part-time: 8.0%
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

Source: diegograndi / iStock via Getty Images

39. Chile
> Average work week (full-time employees): 45.7 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 85.3%
> Workforce that is part-time: 10.1%
> Unemployment rate: 7.2%
> Avg. annual wages: $26,916

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Source: serts / E+ via Getty Images

40. Turkey
> Average work week (full-time employees): 48.0 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 89.2%
> Workforce that is part-time: 5.3%
> Unemployment rate: 13.7%
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

Source: Kryssia Campos / Moment via Getty Images

41. Costa Rica
> Average work week (full-time employees): 48.1 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 79.7%
> Workforce that is part-time: 13.9%
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

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Source: aldomurillo / E+ via Getty Images

42. Mexico
> Average work week (full-time employees): 48.4 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 79.0%
> Workforce that is part-time: 11.6%
> Unemployment rate: 3.5%
> Avg. annual wages: $17,594

Source: andresr / E+ via Getty Images

43. Colombia
> Average work week (full-time employees): 49.8 hours
> Employees who worked at least 40 hours/week: 88.4%
> Workforce that is part-time: 6.9%
> Unemployment rate: 10.5%
> Avg. annual wages: N/A

Methodology:

To determine how long the average workweek is around the world, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed data on the average hours usually worked among dependent employees in 2019 from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Data on the percentage of dependent employees who work part time — less than 30 hours a week — also came from the OECD and is for 2018. Additional data listed is all from the OECD and is for the most recent period available. All figures are annual except for unemployment figures, which are monthly. All data on employee hours and part-time work are for dependent employees, meaning it does not include self-employed workers.

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