Prague - The latest report by the European Foundation (Eurofound) for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions sends out a clear message - while the former EU15 states work less and have more holidays, the new member states work much longer for less vacation time.
The Eurofound report analyses the working time set by collective bargaining as well as actual working hours across the European Union. Since it began monitoring social policy making across the EU in 2003, the substantial gap in working time between the former EU15 states and the new member states seems to linger.
Agreement vs reality
The average collectively agreed weekly working time in the European Union in 2007 stood at 38.6 hours, while the average working time in the EU15 was 37.9 hours that year (the same as in 2006), compared with 39.6 hours for the new member states (also unchanged from 2006).
|Working hours per week|
|Actual working time hr/week||Actual working time hr/year|
|Average in EU 27||40.0||1743.1|
The report aso indicates that while the former EU15 countries are cutting down on collectively agreed working hours, the 40-hour work week remains the standard in the majority of the new member states. Exceptions to the 40-hour week are found only in Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where agreed hours are closer to the EU15 average.
But the reality, naturally, differs. The actual weekly working hours are typically higher than the collectively bargained working time.
Bulgarian, Romanian and British full-time employees work the longest hours per week, followed by the Czech Republic (41.2), while the lowest levels are reported in France, Italy and Denmark.
Holidays in Europe
The average number of fully paid holidays in Europe is 25.2 days per year. While the average in the EU15 and Norway stands at 26.7 days, with great differences between Sweden (33 days) and Greece (23 days), the new states have considerably lower numbers of paid holidays.
Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania and Slovakia have 21.9 days of paid leave on average per year. The figures of the rest of the new member states are unknown.