Less holidays, longer hours for workers in EU's new Member States

Workers in the 10 new EU Member States work on average 112 hours - or almost
three working weeks - more per year than workers in the EU15, according to the
Foundation's European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO) in its annual
update on working time developments. Workers in Sweden, for example, had 44
days off from work last year - more than double the collectively agreed annual
leave and public holidays for workers in Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and

Collectively agreed weekly working time has stabilised at 38.6 hours in the
last two years, on average 0.7 hours shorter in the EU15 and Norway and 0.9
hours longer in the new EU countries. The EIRO comparative report found,
however, that the normal working week is longer in all countries (except
Lithuania) than the average collectively agreed working week. In the EU25,
average usual weekly hours were 40.2 in 2003, compared with average
collectively agreed weekly working time of 38.6 hours in 2004.

The highest levels of usual hours worked by full-time employees in the EU25 are
found in Latvia, the UK and Poland, and the lowest in Italy, France and the
Netherlands. Within the EU15 countries, the United Kingdom stands out with the
longest full-time hours (43.1) and a 5.9 hours gap between agreed and usual
hours. Norway has the lowest hours of all the countries examined.

'Collective bargaining plays a key role in determining the duration of working
time in most of the countries in Europe, with coverage levels of around
three-quarters of the workforce in the former EU15 and less than half in the
new Member States,' comments Willy Buschak, Acting Director of the European
Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. 'Still, we
found that women in part-time jobs work on average two hours more than men in
part-time jobs in Denmark, Germany and Sweden. The opposite is the case in
Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg and Portugal, where women in part-time
occupations work, on average, two hours less than men.'

The EIRO comparative study looks at working time developments in all EU
countries plus Bulgaria, Romania and Norway. It provides information on average
collectively agreed weekly hours, statutory maximum working week and day, usual
weekly working hours, annual leave and annual working time. It also examines
collectively agreed weekly hours in the manufacturing industry (chemicals),
services (retail) and the public sector (central civil service).

Further information

AplusA-online.de - Source: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions