Traditional or progressive? Czech working habits running contrary to European trends

New data shows that Czechs are among the hardest-working people in the EU, while differences between men and women persist.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass
Published on 03.09.2021 16:20 (updated on 03.09.2021)

The traditional eight-hour working week may be on the decline across Europe, but the Czech Republic is sticking to old ways. This follows from new data published by Eurostat, which shows that Czechs are among the hardest-working people in Europe, with working hours well above the EU average.

Taking into account part-time work, Czechs work an average of 39.9 hours a week, according to Eurostat, compared with a European average of 37 hours. The hardest-working EU member states were Greece, where people work an average of 43.8 hours, Austria (42.1 hours), Malta (42 hours) and Poland (41.4 hours). The Czech Republic rounded off the top five hardest working nations in the bloc.

The Czech Republic has long been one of the hardest working nations in the EU, and further back in the nation's history a six-day working week was commonplace. Data from 2019 meanwhile suggested that Czechs spend an average of eleven days more at work per year than they are required to by the nation’s labor code.

The long hours being worked by Czechs runs contrary to a trend of reduced hours being seen elsewhere in the EU. Denmark is the nation with the shortest average working hours, and analysts say a growth in part-time work is to some extent responsible.

“Part-time work has grown in recent years, mainly due to modern technologies. People often opt for this kind of work so that they can combine different jobs or improve their retirement or maternity leave allowance. They are also a way for young people to become financially independent from their parents,” said Eurostat.

5.7 percent of Czech workers were engaged in part-time work last year, according to Eurostat. This is one of the lowest shares of any European country, with an EU average of 18.2 percent working part-time jobs. This low proportion of part-time workers may be responsible for the Czech Republic’s high average working time. By way of contrast, in the Netherlands more than half of workers are part-time.

Eurostat data also shows that a division still exists between working hours for men and women. In the Czech Republic, the average man works 41.2 hours a week, while the average woman works 38.3 hours. Far greater disparities were seen elsewhere, though: in the Netherlands, women work an average of 25.5 hours a week compared to nine hours a week for men.

Working habits in the Czech Republic are therefore traditional in some ways, but progressive in others. The gap between male and female working hours is much smaller than in other states, but attitudes towards the eight-hour working day remain largely unchanged. With other countries in Europe moving towards part-time work and shorter hours, people working in the Czech Republic may expect a similar shift to take place in the country over the coming years.

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