Skip to main content

You think you work hard at your job? Sure, but how do you compare to the average South Korean? New statistics released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) paint an interesting country-by-country picture.

Topping the list is South Korea with an average of 2193 hours at their jobs. Canadians check in around the middle of the pack of 34 countries, with 1702 hours worked. (Key countries, such as India, China and Brazil are not OECD members.)

"Asian countries tend to work the longest [hours] they also have the highest proportion of workers that are working excessively long hours of more than 48 hours a week," Jon Messenger, an expert on working hours told BBC writer Wesley Stephenson.

Story continues below advertisement

"Korea sticks out because it's a developed country that's working long hours," he said. "Normally it's developing countries like Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka - countries like this that are working long hours."

And the ranking provides a handy primer to the habits of countries that dominate the news.

As Mr. Stephenson points out, Greek workers have had a bad rep recently but "their average of 2,017 hours a year puts them third in the international ranking." And well ahead of us Canadians.

But experts suggest that long working hours are historically linked to lower productivity and lower wages. Lower worked hours can mean that part-time work is very profitable – and that a country's paid holiday structure is generous. At the bottom of the OECD list: Germany, with an average of 1408 hours worked, and the Netherlands, at 1377.

"Over the last century, you've seen a reduction from very long working hours – nearly 3,000 a year at the beginning of the 1900s – to the turn of the 21st Century when most developing countries were under 1,800 hours," says Mr. Messenger. "And indeed some of the most productive countries were even lower than that."

What about me, you ask? Well, the BBC is on it – they've created a calculator to compare yourself to your fellow Canadians. Just enter the number of hours you work a week and how many vacation days and voilà, you can find out.

It's especially timely, given the current national discussion around changes to the federal EI program.

Story continues below advertisement

So, how do you rank? Are you a slacker or a workhorse?

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies