Working nine to five? Not exactly...

The British are the ninth least hard-working nation, according to the OECD. Should we be pulling our finger out?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
We’ve already had one story today about how miserable the country is, so it’s nice to be cheered by research from the Office for Economic Co-operation and Development, which compares Britain’s working habits with those across the globe - and suggests we take it easier than lots of our international peers.

The organisation’s biennial 'Society at a Glance' report found that the British are the ninth least hard-working of the 29 OECD nations, working on average seven hours and 53 minutes a day. That may seem just shy of the typical eight-hour working day; but in fact only four hours 21 minutes of that time is devoted to ‘paid work or study', while the rest is dedicated to domestic chores like cooking, cleaning and caring. (That will surely seem an injustice to the millions of people robotically clocking in at nine and out again at six before they commence the domestic duties).

The report suggests, for example, that we’re put in the shade for our work habits even by arch siesta-takers like the Spanish and Portuguese. You may argue they must be counting their afternoon naps as work, but then again we’re probably doing the same with tea breaks.

The average daily total for work overall is eight hours four minutes. And how do other countries compare? It’s the Mexicans who slog away the most, working for nine hours 54 minutes a day. Not bad for a race famously described by the Top Gear team as 'lazy, feckless, flatulent [and] overweight'. In terms of an easy work life it’s better to be French or, far more surprising, German; but it’s the Belgians who have the easiest time: they work only seven hours seven minutes a day all-in.

But while it may make us feel a little better about our lot, given the state of the economy at the moment it could be seen as an argument for knuckling down a bit harder to get us through the mess. Especially when we’re shopping six minutes a day more than the OECD average (which is 23 minutes). So maybe we should follow the lead of those hard-working, competent, lithe Mexicans…
Economy Retail

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime