Who would have thought the Germans are lazier than the British?

Average Brit works 18% harder than Dutch, 7.5% harder than Germans, 3.5% harder than Eurozone average

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2024

Brexit Facts4EU.Org compares the average working weeks in the UK and in the EU

In the last two weeks both the ONS and the EU’s statistics agency have released their latest figures on the average number of hours worked each week by full-time employees. These show that British workers - in the past chastised for their work ethic - are working more hours each week than their counterparts in Germany and in other Eurozone countries.

The media is full of stories about those who have not gone back to work after the Covid lockdowns – quite rightly – but our analysis of the data from the UK and the Eurozone shows some surprising results.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Average hours worked per week by full-time employees, latest figures for 2023

  • United Kingdom : 36.4
  • Estonia : 36.3
  • Spain : 36.3
  • Italy : 36.0
  • EU27 average : 35.9
  • France : 35.8
  • Eurozone average : 35.2
  • Luxembourg : 35.2
  • Sweden : 35.2
  • Ireland : 34.9
  • Belgium : 34.6
  • Finland : 34.2
  • Germany : 33.9
  • Austria : 33.5
  • Denmark : 33.3
  • Netherlands : 30.9

[Sources: ONS and Eurostat.]

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2024 - click to enlarge

British workers work harder than those in the major EU economies

Last year British workers beat their counterparts in each of the EU’s three top economies: Germany, France, and Italy. In each case British workers worked longer hours each week, on average.

British workers also beat the Eurozone and EU27 averages.

What is an ‘average working week’?

Average weekly hours are the number of hours usually worked per week in the main job that comprises all hours including extra hours, either paid or unpaid, which the person normally works.

This includes production activities, ancillary activities (travel between different places of work and personnel management), and education and training necessary for carrying out the work. This excludes the travelling time between home and workplace, the time for the main meal break, education and non-job-related training.

Average weekly hours are the number of hours actually worked per week in the individual’s main job, namely the hours spent in work activities including unpaid overtime. Periods of absence from work, such as sick leave, holidays and commuting time, are not included.


The fact that British workers on average work longer hours than the Germans, the French, the Italians, and than the Eurozone and EU27 averages might surprise some readers. Nevertheless this is the case, according to the official figures.

Naturally hours worked do not necessarily translate into productivity, which is what really matters. Nevertheless we found the results of our analysis interesting and we hope readers did too. If nothing else, it shows that national stereotypes may need re-evaluating.

Finally, we ask those who use our comments facility to keep to the topic of the daily reports. After the news yesterday about Nigel Farage we realise it will be tempting for commenters to talk about this. Please note that there will be an opportunity to do this very shortly. We have some exclusive news about Reform UK which we will be publishing as soon as possible.

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[ Sources: ONS | EU Commission ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Tues 04 Jun 2024

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