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Standard working hours in Europe

Standard working hours in Europe

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We are well aware of stereotypes about Europe: French are known to be a bit snobbish. On the other hand, Brits are well-mannered tea lovers and Germans are time-respecting hard workers. However, those stereotypes don’t show the real picture of our European neighbors. To understand them, we have to understand their habits, how they work and how they rest. That’s why we decided to find out what are the standard working hours in Europe and see who’s the laziest and who’s a workaholic in the old continent.

Standard working hours in Europe Infographic 

standard working hours in europe

Source: Bamboo HR


Seems like Europeans don’t like to work that much. By one OECD study, among 16 nations included in the research where employees worked less than the average 15 of them were from Europe. Now, that’s a good reference if we ever consider moving to another country!


Now we see the standard working hours in Europe is around 40 hours per week. However, the lowest average of working hours is held by the Netherlands. Employees in the Netherlands on average work 29 hours per week. Seems like their neighbors from Denmark were keen on following this trend. This is how their average workweek is not more than 32 hours. 

Standard working hours in Europe and gender differences

When it comes to gender differences and standard working hours in Europe, we find an interesting situation. Taken in general, women work fewer hours than men. However, if we count those countries where work hours are longer, women work more than their male counterparts. 


Standard working hours in Europe: final verdict

Yet again, we have to mention OECD data from 2012 which suggests that Eastern European countries work the most. This includes Greece, Russia, Poland, Estonia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Paradoxically, all of them have longer hours than the U.S. state famous for overwork. On the other hand, France is famous for low working hours. That’s especially true for the period after 2000 when France introduced a standard 35-hour workweek. But we have to be cautious: one thing is data on the paper. Practice proves us wrong. Even though they have a 35-hour long work week, with any additional hours considered as overtime, French citizens are encouraged to stay longer hours at work. 

Standard working hours in Europe

Standard working hours in Europe and parental leave

European Union recently introduced the establishment of a minimum of ten days of paternity leave for the whole European Union. This step was made as a way of promoting gender equality. And even though this legislation was already there in some countries (take France for instance) it will be a step forward for most of the European countries.


When it comes to maternity leave in Europe, the situation is far better than in the U.S. Take Germany for instance. This European country offers a 12-month-long maternity leave to its citizens. France follows Germany with 16 weeks of maternity leave. But the most generous European country when it comes to maternity leave in Sweden. To its citizens, Sweden offers whooping 480 days of maternity leave per child. What’s best the majority of those days (420) are paid a rate of 80 percent of your salary. 

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