Working hours in Luxembourg 7% longer than neighbours in 2022

Luxembourg’s statistics bureau, Statec, has recently published a report on the evolution of working hours in Luxembourg and other European countries. Photo: Shutterstock

Luxembourg’s statistics bureau, Statec, has recently published a report on the evolution of working hours in Luxembourg and other European countries. Photo: Shutterstock

The topic of reducing average weekly working hours has received political attention in light of the upcoming municipal elections next week and the general elections scheduled for October. Statec has provided insights by revealing that the annual average working hours are 7% longer than those of the three neighbouring countries, while still being 3% less than the average working hours in the eurozone.

The much-anticipated study commissioned by the labor ministry to evaluate the feasibility of reducing working hours in Luxembourg while maintaining equal pay has proven to be underwhelming.

The study’s outcomes have fallen short of expectations, setting the stage for the topic to be prominently featured in the upcoming October general election campaigns.

Despite Thuc Uyen Nguyen-Thi, a researcher at the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (Liser) and the coordinator of the study, defending it as “scientific, objective and neutral,” the government faced criticism from both business representatives and labor unions for not including their input in the survey.

This lack of involvement from stakeholders has raised concerns about the study’s credibility.

Georges Engel, the labor minister from the LSAP party, acknowledged that the study has contributed data to the ongoing debate but admitted that the findings are inconclusive.

Political positions

While the Democratic Party (DP) and the Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) have already expressed opposition to reducing working hours, advocating for greater flexibility instead, the LSAP is actively promoting the idea.

On the other hand, déi Gréng (Green party) is seeking a middle ground by proposing pilot projects in selected sectors to assess the potential impact of reduced working hours.

Working hours evolution

On Friday 26 May, Statec, the national statistical institute, too delved in the ‘working hours’ bootcamp, providing detailed information on the average hours worked in Luxembourg and various other European countries.

In order to make a meaningful comparison, Statec took into account both the total number of hours worked by all employees and the domestic salaried employment measured by the number of individuals. The ratio of these variables, which represents the hours worked per employee, is considered as the average annual length of working time per employee.

The resulting data shows that across various European countries, including Luxembourg, there has been a consistent decrease in the number of hours worked.

Notably, significant reductions in working hours occurred during specific years, namely 2009 and 2020. The year 2009 was marked by the aftermath of the financial crisis, while 2020 was heavily impacted by the covid-19 pandemic.

France experienced a notable decline in working hours between 2000 and 2002, which coincided with the reduction of the legal working week from 39 hours to 35 hours.

Interestingly, Luxembourg employees averaged between 1,608 hours and 1,418 hours between 1995 and 2022, which was 7% to 13% higher than the yearly averages of the Belgium, France and Germany taken together. Luxembourg and its three neighbours all recorded figures lower than the EU27 average of 1,535 hours per year.

At European level, Poland recorded the highest average of 1,998 hours in 2022, while Germany reported the lowest at 1,295 hours.

Luxembourg fell close to the eurozone average, with an average of 1,483 working hours.

Diverging changes

Interestingly, Luxembourg experienced a notable 7.8% decrease in working hours from 1995 to 2022, surpassing the 6.8% decrease observed in the eurozone during the same period.

However, in the past five years, from 2018 to 2022, Luxembourg witnessed a slower reduction of 1.6% in working hours compared to the 1.7% decrease in the eurozone.

These results, although inconclusive, will likely contribute to the ongoing political debate surrounding the topic.

The full report is available here.