Long working hours undermine good working conditions

Comparative data on working conditions and working time developments in Europe
show that long working hours undermine good working conditions. The average
working week for all workers in the new EU Member States is 44.4 hours, against
38.2 hours in the former EU15, according to research carried out by the
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.
Average weekly working hours remain longest (40 hours) in Hungary, Poland,
Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia and Malta, and shortest in France (35), the
Netherlands (37) and Denmark (37). The average collectively agreed normal
weekly hours in the UK is 37.2.

Over the period 1999-2003, the average agreed normal weekly hours for the
former EU15 and Norway has fallen from 38.6 to 38.0 hours. In the United
Kingdom, the average agreed normal weekly hours have fallen by around one hour
(2.5%-3%) over the same period.

However, over the past decade, work intensity has risen sharply and it shows no
signs of slowing down. It is true that most people work shorter hours but they
work faster, giving rise to the situation where over half the workers in Europe
are working at high speed and to tight deadlines during at least one quarter of
their working time. One in three European workers complains of backache related
to their job. Nearly one in two report working in a painful/tiring position.

When asked, European workers say they would like more flexible working time
arrangements than at present and would like to see this provided for by
governments and social partners.

'European workers are producing more within a shorter time frame, due to the
steady rise in levels of work intensity, stress and demand,' says Willy
Buschak, acting Director of the European Foundation. 'Our research shows that a
new organisation of working time over the entire life course is necessary, if
Europe is to meet the challenges of an ageing society and of increased
competition in the global market.'

Further Information

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