Spain and other Med countries worked least during Covid pandemic

Image: Alfaz town hall

Fewer hours worked in 2020 across Europe with Mediterranean countries leading the way in time off during the pandemic.

Spain, Greece and Italy worked the least hours during the Covid-19 pandemic, EU statistics reveal.

In 2020, the number of actual hours worked in the main job in the EU decreased by 12 per cent when compared with 2019. This decrease can be explained by the measures taken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which led many people to alternate between periods of work and periods of absence from work in 2020. As a result, more people worked fewer hours than usual and were absent from their jobs.

At the national level, there was a decline in hours worked across all Member States. The highest declines were recorded for Greece (-19.7 per cent), Spain (-19.5 per cent), Portugal and Italy (both -19.0 per cent).

The EU countries where there was little change in hours (with a reduction of less than five per cent) were: Finland (-4.4 per cent), Denmark and Luxembourg (both -4.1 per cent) and the Netherlands (-3.2 per cent).

More people worked fewer hours than usual in 2020

Throughout the EU, 26.9 million employed people reported that they had worked less than their usual working hours in 2020. This compared with 24.4 million employed persons working less than their usual working hours in 2019.

The primary reason for the increase in the number of people working fewer hours than usual in 2020 was the temporary lay-off: the number of temporary lay-offs ballooned from 0.5 million in 2019 to 3.9 million in 2020. In addition, 5.8 million people worked less hours than usual for other reasons (which namely include parental and special leave, education and training) in 2020, up from 4.7 million in 2019.

Over the same period, the number of people who worked more than their usual hours decreased regardless of the reason for working more. The number of people working overtime declined from 7.3 million in 2019 to 5.8 million in 2020; the number of those who had worked more due to variable hours fell by one million to 4.7 million and the number of those who worked more for other reasons decreased by half a million to 2.3 million


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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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