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Working Time

In most countries the regular week has 40 working hours. In a number of countries a shorter working time has been agreed.

However, longer working times during the peak season have been agreed in all countries, usually to be compensated by leisure time or by overtime bonus payments.

The Situation in International Comparison:

Tabelle International Comparison: Working Time

The Situation in Individual European Countries:

AT: Austria

The working time in agriculture is 40 hours per week and can be made more flexible under the collective agreement (between 32 and 48). The overtime bonus is 50 %, or 100 % (work on Sundays and public holidays). The effective working time is 2080 hours per year.


BE: Belgium

Belgium has a 38-hour week. If the working time exceeds 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week a 50 % overtime bonus is paid in agriculture. In horticulture up to 11 hours per day and 50 hours per week are possible.

A 100 % bonus is paid for work on public holidays.

Actual working time: 1,816 hours per year.


BG: Bulgaria

The working week has 40 hours.


CH: Switzerland

Under the cantonal standard employment contracts it is allowed to work, e. g., 66 hours in summer and 55 h in winter in Glarus, 55 hours on year's average in Zürich, 49 h in Geneva, 48 hours for long-term employed workers in Wallis (others 55 h!).  In most cantons the average working time per week is 55 hours! For overtime (in excess of the maximum mentioned above) a 25 % bonus 'must' be paid.


CY: Cyprus

The weekly working time is 40 hours, which may be extended to 48 hours.


CZ: Czech Republic

The law defines the maximum working time as 40 hours per week: for three shifts in continuous operation 37.5 hours per week, for two shifts 38.75 hours per week, for workers under 18 years 30 hours per week.

The annual working time for 2007 with a 40-hour week is 2008 hours.

The average actual working time of employees in agriculture, hunting and forestry is 40.6 hours, for part-time workers it is 22.2 hours. The average number of actual working hours in agriculture and fishery is one of the highest compared with other industries.

According to Eurostat the average number of actual working hours per week in Czechia was the highest value of all 25 EU countries in the 2nd quarter of 2006.


DE: Germany

In German agriculture the theoretical working time is 2,088 hours per year and 40 hours per week. After subtracting public and personal holidays, etc., the calculated number of productive working hours is 1,795 hours per year.

Under the collective agreements a week has 40 working hours, flexibility rules at the company level may provide for 38 to 45h. Usually an overtime bonus is paid for overtime. Working time accounts may be set up for the purpose of flexibilisation (agreed for agriculture as a whole and included in some collective agreements in horticulture).


DK: Denmark

According to the statutory rules the maximum working time must not exceed 48 h per week and 11 h per day. Under the collective agreement a 40 % bonus is paid for the first two hours of overtime, and an 80 % bonus for more than 2 hours. The bonus for weekend work is 80 %. A second solution agreed collectively is flexible annual working time. It allows extra working hours to be collected on an annual working time account in order to avoid unemployment in winter. However, only about 10 % of the employees have used the latter solution.


EE: Estonia

Estonia has the 40-hour week. The maximum working time is 48 hours per week, i. e. a maximum of 4 hours per day, or 12 hours per shift. The maximum overtime per year is 200 hours.


ES: Spain

Under the collective agreements the working time is 40 hours per week, but in the companies people work longer. Overtime work is paid extra or balanced out, at least in larger companies. Smaller companies (fewer than 10 employees) do not really observe this rule.

In a 5-day week there are 8 working hours per day, in a 6-day week there are 6.5 hours per day.


FI: Finland

Under the Working Time Act a week in Finland has 40 working hours, the annual working time is 1,880 h (40 x 47 hours). Collective agreements may lay down more flexible times of 8 - 11 hours per day, or 40 - 55 hours per week, with an obligation to balance out the time in a 52-week period. Overtime may be agreed by individual rules between employers and employees. Overtime bonus: 1st - 3rd hour of overtime per day each 50 %, from the 3rd hour on 100 %. Weekly: 40th - 48th hour 50 %, from 49th hour on 100 %.


FR: France

In France the 35-hour week has been agreed for agriculture, and flexibility up to 48 working hours is possible under certain conditions. During the harvest season 72 working hours per week are allowable with the consent of the labour inspectorate. The effective annual working time is 151.67 hours.


GB: United Kingdom

39 hours per week on 5 days. According to collective agreements the weekly working time may vary between 4 and 6 days per week, but the maximum number of working hours per day is 10. A 50 % bonus is paid for overtime. (The overtime bonus is 150% of the minimum hourly wage).


GR: Greece

A week has 40 working hours, the maximum weekly working time is 48 hours. A minimum rest period of 24 hours in one block must be granted per week.


HR: Croatia

The weekly working time is 40 hours in 48 working weeks per year (1,920 effective working hours).


HU: Hungary

The full working time is 8 hours per day in a six-day week, i. e. 48 hours per week. In extraordinary cases the working time can be longer than 12 hours per day or 48 hours per week.

The daily working time must not be less than 4 hours (except part-time workers).

Based on the daily working time the working time for seasonal work may be defined for at least 2 months and a maximum of four months. According to the collective agreement a 4-month period may be used, and under the industry collective agreement even 6 months are possible in cases specified by the law.

When working periods are used the working time distribution may be uneven, but the average has to be the full working time.


IE: Ireland

Ireland has a 39-hour week. The maximum allowable average weekly working time is 48 hours. Depending on the circumstances this average may be determined over a period of 4, 6, or 12 months.


IS: Iceland

A week has 40 working hours in Iceland. Usually people work 50 hours. More than 14 hours per day are forbidden.


IT: Italy

A week has 39 working hours, a month 26 working days.

Province agreements may lay down a maximum of 44 hours per week for a maximum of 90 days per year. The extra time must be compensated in the course of the year.

According to the national agreement a 25 % bonus is paid for overtime (29 % in horticulture). On Sundays and public holidays and for work at night a 40 % bonus is paid in agriculture and horticulture (flower production and greenhouse cultures). The night time bonus is 45 %. The maximum number of overtime hours must not exceed 200 hours per year. On public holidays another wage is paid in addition to the wage and to the holiday bonus.


LT: Lithuania

A week has 40 working hours, a regular day has 8. The overtime bonus from the 8th to the 10th hour per day is 50 %, and 100 % for more than 10 hours per day. For work on Sundays and public holidays the workers get one day off work. Overtime during the harvest season has to be agreed with the Labour Inspectorate.


LU: Luxembourg

The statutory regulation for working time is as follows: 8 hours per day, and 40 hours per week. There are also statutory provisions for exceptional regulations (12 hours/day and 60 hours/week).

In agriculture it is possible to change the working time as follows: 10 hours/day and 48 hours/week, the average being 40 hours/week. The average is defined for a period called the reference period. The reference period must be a minimum of 4 weeks and a maximum of 12 months.

For special types of seasonal work, e. g. the grape harvest, the is a special regulation saying that for a certain period the working time may be up to 12 hours per day and up to 60 hours per week.


LV: Latvia

The daily working time is 8 hours. There are company rules on the maximum number of working hours, extra hours are offset by leisure later on.


MT: Malta

The working time is 40 hours per week, the maximum is 48 hours.


NL: Netherlands

A 38-hour week has been agreed as the annual average. 9 hours of work per days are allowed for ten weeks per year. A spread between 33.5 and 55 hours per week is possible. Company agreements may allow for a balancing scheme of 15 weeks with 6.5 hours per day.


NO: Norway

According to the law the weekly working time is 40 hours. The collective agreement provides for 37.5 hours, which amounts to 1,950 hours per year. People working more than 8 hours a day are paid a 40 % bonus, or 50 % if they are covered by a collective agreement. The maximum weekly working time can be 48 hours. The daily working time window is 6 - 18 h.


PL: Poland

The weekly working time is 40 hours (8 hours per day in a 5-day week) over a period of 4 months. In agriculture and animal keeping the working time may be flexible over a period of 6 months. 150 hours of overtime per year must not be exceeded. Overtime bonuses in addition to the regular payment are as follows: 100 % for work at night, on Sundays and public holidays that are no working days for the employee; 50 % on any other day.

In 2006 an average worker worked 253 days x 8 hours, which amounts to an effective working time of 2,024 hours.


PT: Portugal

The 40-hour week has been agreed for a 5-day week. There is a large amount of overtime work. In spite of the 8-hour day people often work more than 10 hours. Under the collective agreements summer overtime can be compensated in winter following negotiations between the employer, employee and the trade union.


RO: Romania

The working time is 40 hours per week, or 2,240 hours/year. Working hours are 7:30 -16:30.


SE: Sweden

The working time is 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week, or 2,014 hours per year. A 50 % bonus is paid for overtime, and 100 % on Sundays and public holidays. A maximum of 200 hours of overtime per year is allowable, or 300 hours under special agreements with the trade union.


SI: Slovenia

The weekly working time is 40 hours on 5 working days.


SK: Slovakia

The working time is and 40 hours per week, usually 40 hours per week (2048 hours per year). A maximum of 48 hours per week is allowable (8-12 hours per day).


TR: Turkey

The weekly working time is 45 hours in a 6-day week.

Overtime bonuses are 50 % or as specified by the law.