Working Days across the World

Posted on Monday, April 3, 2017 by The TravellerNo comments

We often hear about the importance of the ‘work-life balance’ to our overall wellbeing. But achieving this balance can be incredibly tricky, especially if you have a demanding job that requires you to work long hours. When you spend up to 60 hours at work every week, it can be hard to relax and enjoy some leisure time, as well as spending time with family members and loved ones.

The typical working week in the UK is around 40-42 hours (obviously those who work in the emergency services, the government, or competitive corporate industries may have much longer working weeks). This is often split over five days, with between eight and nine hours in each day. How does that impact the work-life balance we can enjoy here – and where does the UK compare in terms of global working days? As a leading London recruitment agency, we like to keep on top of the stats so we can share our knowledge with you.

United States of America

Reports show that the average working week for full-time employees in America is 47 hours – however, some have been known to work up to 80 hours over a 9-day basis (especially in government). Like in the UK, the working week is traditionally from Monday to Friday, but many retail and leisure workers, as well as emergency services and law enforcement staff, work shifts on weekends.


Sweden used to stick with the conventional 8-hour working day, like many western countries – but recently, many companies in the Scandinavian country have introduced a 6-hour working day. Experts claim the 8-hour day is not as effective as some might like to believe, and slashing two hours from the working day could actually boost productivity and lead to fewer sick days. Toyota, which pioneered the changes 13 years ago, reports that staff are happier, profits increased, and there’s a lower staff turnover rate.


The official working week in Singapore is fairly traditional: usually between 8.30am and 5pm. However, reports have shown that one in five workers in Singapore put in around 11 hours every day – so if they turn up for work at 8.30am, they don’t leave until 7.30pm. Unfortunately, long working hours don’t necessarily translate into productivity. Long hours at the office can translate into poor health and general wellbeing, which can then affect the work output of employees. Many employees also experience burnout, leaving professions like law and finance after 3-5 years, creating high turnover rates.


France has a fairly short 35-hour working week – any hours worked outside of this time frame are considered to be overtime, meaning employees must be compensated for the extra time spent working. France also led the way with a landmark ruling in 2016, guaranteeing all employees a ‘right to disconnect’. This means that, legally, employees are not expected to check their smartphones, reply to emails or be available for contact outside of work, protecting their personal downtime and ensuring they can better ‘switch off’.

For more information about the latest recruitment news and trends from a leading PA and secretarial recruitment agency, keep reading the Love Success blog! 


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