Hours worked per year – where does Canada rank?

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If you’ve ever thought you spend far too much of the year at work, spare a thought for those employed in Mexico.  According to the OECD Better Life Index Mexicans work more hours per year than other OECD country, clocking up 2,250 hours annually. That’s 474 hours more than the OECD average of 1,776.

So how does Canada compare? Well against Mexico we’re not even close - Canadians clock up 1,702 hours at work a year, 548 hours less than our Mexican counterparts.  And while it’s slightly less than the OECD average it’s still more than our neighbours across the ditch and those in the mother country.  Additionally just 4% of Canadian employees work very long hours – less than the OECD average of 9%, which pales in comparison to Turkey who have the highest proportion at 46%.

But how do other countries fair?

Mexican work the most hours per year out of all those in the OECD with 2,250 hours spent working . Nearly 29% of employees work very long hours, which is also one of the highest levels in the OECD.

Employees in Turkey work 1,855 hours annually, which is above the average. However, when it comes to long hours worked it has by far the highest rate in the OECD at 46%.

United States
Those in the US put in slightly more hours at work that the OECD average at 1,787 hours annually. About 11% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 9%.

Australians work 83 hours less than the OECD average, clocking up an average 1,693 hours a year at work. However Aussies are above the OECD average for very long hours worked with 14% putting in longer hours at work.   

United Kingdom
Those in the United Kingdom not only work less hours annually than the OECD average they also work less than those in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US.  Workers there work 1625 hours a year but some 12% of employees work very long hours – which is higher than the OECD average.

The French work 300 hours less than the OECD average, spending only 1,476 hours a year at work. Additionally nine per cent of employees work very long hours which is the OECD average.

Hours worked annually in OECD countries
Mexico: 2,250
Korea: 2,090
Greece: 2,034
Chile: 2,029
Russian Federation: 1,982
Poland: 1,929
Israel: 1,910
Estonia: 1,889
Hungary: 1,888
Turkey: 1,855
Czech Republic: 1,800
United States: 1,787
Slovak Republic: 1,785
New Zealand: 1,762
Italy: 1,752
Japan: 1,745
Iceland: 1,706
Canada: 1,702
Austria: 1,699
Australia: 1,693
Portugal: 1,691
Spain: 1,686
Finland: 1,672
Slovenia: 1,640
Switzerland: 1,636
United Kingdom: 1,625
Sweden: 1,621
Luxembourg: 1,609
Belgium: 1,574
Denmark: 1,546
Ireland: 1,529
France: 1,476
Norway: 1,420
Germany: 1,397
Netherlands: 1,381

  • Joanne on 2014-05-22 10:50:06 AM

    1702 seems really low to me, where do they get these numbers? 1702 divide by 50 weeks (allowing for 2 weeks vacation) = 34.04 hours per week less minimum 1/2 hour for lunch break (2.50 hours)= a total of 31.50 hours per week. Who works those hours? Sign me up for a 31.50 hour week.

  • Kate on 2014-05-22 12:27:42 PM

    Joanne - according to the OECD Factbook, (which I'm assuming uses the same definitions as the OECD Better Life Index), the data on hours worked includes part-time employees. This could explain why the statistic on the average hours worked in Canada seems low.

    "The average number of hour worked per year is calculated as the total numbers of hours actually worked over the year divided by the average number of people in employment. The data cover employees and self-employed workers; they include both full-time and part-time employment."

    Interestingly, the OECD also states that the "national data [on hours worked] are intended for comparisons of trends in productivity and labour inputs...and are not fully suitable for inter-country comparisons of the level of hours worked because of differences in their sources and other uncertainties about their international comparability."

    Without including this basic information from the OECD or links to sources, the HRM article above seems more like filler than something to spark informed discussion or provide accurate news.

    Note to the editors: I'm sure other readers like myself would appreciate links to further resources or sources, especially in your articles that cite published data.

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