Working time is a key element of working life and its regulation has, for decades, been at the core of political, economic and social discussions at national and EU level. In the European Union, working time duration and organisation is regulated by different combinations of legislation, including the Working Time Directive, as well as collective bargaining at national, sectoral or company level, and negotiations at individual level. For well over a decade, Eurofound has collected information on several aspects of working time in the EU, including aspects related to collectively agreed working time. While the data have been published regularly in annual reports, until now they have not been analysed from a long-term perspective.
This report examines the evolution of working time at the beginning of the 21st century. It describes the institutional regimes of regulation in EU Member States and Norway, and assesses the evolution of both agreed working hours and usual working hours between 1999 and 2014. The emphasis is on the duration of working time for full-time workers, including collectively agreed normal working hours and how they are fixed. Drawing primarily on information collected by Eurofound across all EU Member States and Norway, the study focuses in particular on five sectors: chemicals, metalworking, banking, retail and public administration.