Average weekly working hours hardly changed in recent years

05/04/2011 15:00

The employed labour force in the Netherlands comprised nearly 7.4 million people in 2010. On average, they worked 34.4 hours a week versus 36.7 hours in 1996. Both genders have reduced their weekly working hours. The reduction was almost entirely effected between 1996 and 2003.

Working hours women reduced most

Men as well as women in the employed labour force worked fewer hours a week in 2010 than in 1996. The reduction for women was 1.9 hours, for men 1.4 hours. With 28.4 hours, the average working week for women was significantly shorter than for men (39.2 hours).

Average working hours employed labour force by gender

Average working hours employed labour force by gender

Average weekly working hours and contractual working hours

Proportionally, the average reduction of working hours by more than 2 hours a week was substantial, because the share of women in the employed labour force has grown. The reduction of working hours was largely realised between 1996 and 2003.

In some sectors, contractual working hours of full-time employees were reduced, e.g. in the health care sector where many women are employed. In the period after 2003, the number of contractual working hours has hardly changed.

Lower educated women have shorter working hours

If women’s occupational level is lower, their average working weeks tend to be shorter. Women employed at elementary level on average worked three days a week last year. Women educated at university level on average worked four days a week.

Since 1996, the smallest reduction of working hours was found in the category of women educated at higher or university level. As a result, the gap between higher and lower educated women has widened.

Average working hours of women in the employed labour force by occupational level

Average working hours of women in the employed labour force by occupational level

Reduction working hours men only at elementary level

Between 1996 and 2003, the average number of working hours of men was reduced across all occupational levels. Last year, only men employed at elementary level were working fewer hours a week than in 2003. With an average of 33.7 hours, they also had the shortest working weeks, whereas men working at secondary level had the longest working weeks (40.6 hours).

Average working hours of men in the employed labour force by occupational level

Average working hours of men in the employed labour force by occupational level

Martijn Souren