Balts among Europe's hardest workers

  • 2007-07-23
  • By Mike Collier
The economies of the Baltic states may be relatively small, but they are underpinned by a labour force that is among Europe's hardest-working, according to a new European report.

The study from the European Industrial Relations Observatory is based on data from 2006 and shows that Latvians work longer hours than anyone else, with full-time employees averaging 42.1 hours per week. Estonia is not far behind in fourth spot, recording 41.1 hours. In contrast, Lithuanians manage a more relaxed 39.6 hours per week.

French workers enjoy the shortest working hours in Europe, putting in just 37.6 hours per week on average 's 4.5 hours per week fewer than their Latvian counterparts.

When entitlement to annual leave is taken into account, Balts appear to work even harder. Estonians end up doing more actual hours at work than anyone else in the EU, spending 1,872 hours at work on average. Latvians are just behind on 1,864 hours with Lithuanians once again slightly more laid-back in seventh place on 1,816 hours.

If nothing else, the data show that the reputation of the 2004 EU accession states for supplying hard workers is completely justified. The study shows that in general, workers in Eastern and Central Europe tend to work longer hours than the Western European workers.