Britons put in more hours than most of Europe

2005

British employees work some of the longest hours in Europe, with some putting in more than 70 hours a week, latest research has suggested.

A study by office supply firm Esselte found that one in four British people still worked 50 hours a week – despite the European Working Time Directive limiting the working week to 48 hours – and nearly 20 per cent put in up to 59 hours.

This compared with 15 per cent in Germany and France, it said.

The survey of 2,600 employees from the UK, the U.S, Australia, Germany and France also reported that more than a third of UK workers took work home in the evenings and at weekends.

Mike Patterson, UK marketing director at Esselte, said: "Our research reveals the UK to be an extremely industrious nation. Staying late to get things done is a fact of life in the modern workplace.

"By also taking work home though, we run the risk of upsetting a healthy work-life balance.

"We're already working hard and now need to focus on working smarter, by improving levels of organisation which can help cut corners and save time," he added.

A study by the Work Foundation in April found that Britons were still working longer hours than almost all their European counterparts, but that Irish workers had taken over as the EU's leading work horses.

The UK had the second highest proportion of its workforce working more than 60 hours, totalling almost 1.4 million people.

The TUC has said the Esselte findings showed the absurdity of Britain retaining its opt-out from the Working Time Directive, and called for the opt-out to be scrapped.

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