Which country works the most hours?

Which counties work the most?

Global work statistics. Credit: one photo/Shutterstock.com

In the wake of the Spanish Government’s push to reduce weekly working hours, it raises the question: which countries are the most hard-working?

The Spanish Minister of Labour and Social Economy, Yolanda Diaz, has proposed reducing the workweek from 40 to 37.5 hours.

This move, aimed at improving work-life balance, wouldn’t uniformly impact all sectors or workers. This initiative has ignited discussions about work hours in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, leading to an intriguing comparison of international work patterns.

OECD Countries: A Spectrum of Working Hours

According to the most recent data, Colombia tops the list in the OECD with a staggering 2,405 hours worked per year per active person.

Mexico and Costa Rica follow closely, both surpassing the 2,000-hour mark annually. This data positions these countries at the higher end of the working hours spectrum.

Conversely, Denmark, Norway, and Germany sit at the lower end, clocking in at around 1,380, 1,384, and 1,386 hours per year respectively. These figures represent a significant 36 per cent reduction compared to Colombia.

Spain’s current standing

Spain currently sits in the mid-range of the OECD table, with an average of 1,686 hours worked per year per employee. This is slightly below the OECD average of 1,726 hours. The diversity in working hours across countries is reflective of various economic, cultural, and legal factors that influence labour policies.

Spain’s potential shift in the global rankings

Should Yolanda Diaz’s proposal be implemented, Spain’s annual working hours would potentially decrease to 1,580. This adjustment would still position Spain above many European counterparts.

It’s crucial to note, however, that several sectors in Spain already have workweeks shorter than 40 hours due to specific collective agreements and regulations for civil servants.

The workweek landscape across OECD countries is diverse, reflecting a range of socio-economic and cultural factors. As Spain considers a shift in its work hours, it joins a global conversation on balancing productivity and well-being.

The proposed changes by the Spanish Government may not only reshape the domestic labour market but also contribute to the ongoing global discourse on work-life balance.

World rankings

Here is the list of countries showing the average hours worked per year, per active person.

  • Colombia: 2,405
  • Mexico: 2,226
  • Costa Rica: 2,149
  • Chile: 1,962
  • Korea: 1,901
  • Israel: 1,891
  • Greece: 1,886
  • Malta: 1,881
  • Russia: 1,847
  • Cyprus: 1,837
  • Poland: 1,814
  • United States: 1,810
  • Croatia: 1,810
  • Romania: 1808
  • Estonia: 1,770
  • Czech Republic
  • New Zealand: 1,748
  • Türkiye: 1,732
  • Australia: 1,707
  • Hungary: 1,699
  • Italy: 1,694
  • Canada: 1,686
  • Ireland: 1,657
  • Spain: 1,643
  • Portugal: 1,635
  • Lithuania: 1,624
  • Slovakia: 1,622
  • Slovenia: 1,619
  • Bulgaria: 1,618
  • Japan: 1,607
  • Latvia: 1,553
  • United Kingdom: 1,531
  • Switzerland: 1,528
  • Belgium: 1,525
  • France: 1,511
  • Finland: 1,498
  • Luxembourg: 1,473
  • Iceland: 1,449
  • Austria: 1,443
  • Sweden: 1,440
  • Netherlands: 1,427
  • Norway: 1,424
  • Denmark: 1,371
  • Germany: 1,340

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Ron

      25 January 2024 • 22:59

      I am wondering who makes those figures. Switzerland 1528 hours? Normal working hours per week = 40 hours x 52 weeks = 2080, taking away 4 weeks holiday still makes 2040 hours a Year.

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