Germany shortens working hours. Poles work most in the EU

Germany has been one of the least hardworking countries in Europe for years. Meanwhile, Poland is at the other end of this ranking. Only Greeks work longer than us.

More and more European countries are testing new options to make work more flexible. The German city of Wedel (Pinneberg district) recently announced a legal four-day working week for office workers. These are not the first experiments of this type introduced by our neighbors. Since February 2023, 33 German companies have joined the six-month pilot, which shortens the working week to four days.

A similar solution was also announced in Scotland some time ago. An extra day off per week is intended to help employees maintain work-life balance.

4-day work week. Is it possible to help the Poles?

The topic of long working hours has been a recurring topic in Polish public debate for years. Consideration was given to shortening the working week from 40 to 35 hours, but also to working 4 days a week with an extensive day system. So far, none of the solutions have proven remarkable enough to warrant trying to implement them.

However, experts from the Preply educational platform for learning foreign languages ​​are sounding the alarm. According to research, we are an overworked nation. According to data published by, as many as a third of Poles feel overloaded by daily work.

– Research clearly shows that work overload and the associated stress and fatigue are the first step towards burnout. Contrary to what it seems, everyone is at risk, regardless of the type of work or position they hold. Naturally, a large part of the responsibility lies with employers. Sometimes the only solution we have is simply to change our workplace. Poles are increasingly seeking work-life balance abroad, says Sylvia Johnson, expert in language and intercultural skills at Preply.

We are at the inglorious top of the EU. Only Greeks work longer than us

The data leaves no doubt. The ranking drawn up by Preply based on Eurostat data shows that we are among the European leaders when it comes to the number of hours we spend performing professional tasks. In 2022, the average weekly working time of a European was 37.5 hours. Meanwhile, Poles spent an average of almost 3 hours at work. longer (40.5 hours).

Only the Greeks did worse than us, whose weekly average was 41 hours. Just behind Poland in the rankings are Romania and Bulgaria, where people work an average of 40.2 hours. per week, as well as Portugal (39.9 hours).

More than 80 percent of Polish residents work more than 40 hours weekly. By comparison: in the Netherlands it is even 45.6 percent. of the population works less than 35 hours, and 23.3 percent is under 25 years old. The Dutch spend an average of 33.2 hours on professional tasks, earning them the title of the least busy country in the European Union. Closely behind the Netherlands were Germany (35.3 hours), Denmark (35.4 hours) and Austria (36 hours). The French are closest to the European average. They work 37.4 hours weekly.

Workers and business owners work the longest hours

Despite significant differences in the number of hours spent at work across countries, several similar trends can be observed. The busiest sectors are dominated by functions that require physical work: agriculture, forestry and fishing (43.9 hours per week), construction (40.5 hours), activities of extraterritorial organizations and teams (40.2 hours) and mining and quarrying (40.1 hours).

However, it is unanimous that entrepreneurs work the longest. In 2022, people with staff worked an average of 47.5 hours. weekly. The leaders here are the owners of Belgian companies, who spent a whopping 51.2 hours on their business tasks. on a weekly basis (the EU directive stipulates that the average working time of an employee may not exceed 48 hours). Self-employed Europeans (without employed workers) spent 40.7 hours at work, and people working under various types of contracts – 36.7 hours.

If we only take into account people who work full-time, Poland ranks sixth among all EU countries (41.3 hours). However, this is still above average (40.6 hours). Only the Greeks, Austrians, Swedes, Cypriots and Portuguese are ahead of us.

Source: Do Rzeczy