Full-time hours down sharply in last 50 years

29/08/2006 14:00

In the last 50 years, official annual working hours of full-time employees have been reduced step by step. In 2005 full-time employees in the Netherlands worked for 1,720 hours. This is just over 100 hours less than in 1980 and 560 hours less than in 1950.

Full-time working hours

Full-time working hours

Differences between sectors of industry

Full-time employees in the Netherlands worked for an average 1,720 hours in 2005. Sectors with the longest working hours are mineral extraction, with 1,774 and business services with 1,765 hours. In the hotel and restaurant and the transport and communication sectors, too, working hours are longer than average. Workers in manufacturing and construction industry work fewer hours than average. The shortest working hours are in the health care and welfare sector (1,674 hours) and public administration (1,684 hours). 

Full-time working hours by sector of industry

Full-time working hours by sector of industry

Reduction in working hours since 1950

In 1950 full-time employees still worked for an average  2,280 hours. Today this is 560 hours less. The reduction in working hours is the result of a shorter working week in combination with an increase in the number of days leave, including extra days leave on the basis of age. The main milestone in the reduction of working hours was the abolition of the six-day working week in the 1960s. In the 1970s the 40-hour working week became the norm. The next step was the Wassenaar Treaty in 1982: employers’ organisations and the trade unions agreed to combine wage restraints with a re-division of labour to combat the massive youth unemployment, thus preventing government intervention in wage formation.

Re-division of labour

Since the Wassenaar Treaty, the labour market has changed drastically. Many older employees have left the labour market via early retirement schemes and part-time work has become immensely popular. In addition, the working hours of full-time employees were reduced by more than 100 hours between the beginning of the 1980s and the mid-1990s. Since then they have remained stable at around 1,720 hours a year.
In 2006 the annual working hours were increased slightly in a few sectors of industry. Construction workers, for example, now have two fewer days leave.

Job van der Zwan