Myth busting: New figures show the French are not actually ‘lazy’ workers

The French have developed an unfair reputation for being workshy, probably thanks to its famous 35-hour week, but new figures reveal the country’s workforce are putting it more hours than you’d have thought.

Myth busting: New figures show the French are not actually 'lazy' workers

“Why are the French so lazy…” is, according to Google, one of the most popular questions typed into the search engine.

And that's probably in part down to the country's famous 35-hour work week that was brought in back in 2000.

The 35-hour work week seems to provoke feelings of envy and ridicule in equal measure in countries like the US and the UK. Just like the idea of a month long summer holiday in August.

But the reality is, even though it may be the law, most people in France work far longer on a weekly basis.

New figures from the labour ministry released this week shows that actual average working week for full time employees stands at 39.1 hours.

That’s slightly down on the 39.5 hour average week in 2011, but still a good four hours more than 35 hours.

When split up into gender, the figures revealed Frenchmen were putting in 39.7 hours a week, while full time French women were working 38.2 hours.

But those who have the status of management (cadre) who are not subject to the legal working week of 35 hours actually put in an average of 43.2 hours a week.

Another interesting stat revealed by the labour ministry showed the average working week of 39.1 hours was the same for both private and public sector employees, but by the end of the year private sector employees had put in 16 extra days graft, or nearly 100 hours more.

And in another myth busting stat, part time workers in France put in 23.3 hours each week on average, well above the EU average of 20.1 hours.

François Fillon, the frontrunner in the race to be the next president of France, has vowed to raise the legal working from 25 hours to 39, but it appears at first glance his policy won’t have much impact on workers.

However they will effectively lose out if Fillon pushed through his plan.

The law in France states that those workers who work over 35 hours a week must be compensated either in overtime pay or through compensation days known as RTT days, which are essentially extra holidays.

In 2013 workers were given on average nine extra RTT days to compensate for them working beyond the 35 hour legal limit.

So the reason why most workers in France actually put in more graft than the legal limit is due mainly to companies offering them extra rest days so they don't have to reduce their weekly hours, or regular overtime hours and finally due to the number of “managers” (cadres) in the workforce – 13.6 percent of all full time workers.

READ ALSO: Is it time for France to ditch the 35-hour legal working week?

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French ‘have more sex while working from home’, poll claims

For most people working from home means rarely changing out of PJs and spending a lot of time on zoom calls - but respondents to one French poll said for them it's an opportunity to have more sex.

French 'have more sex while working from home', poll claims
A change from the classic work-from-home outfit of pyjamas. Photo: AFP

A poll conducted by Ifop for extra-marital dating site Gleeden reported one third of respondents (34 percent) saying they had had sex during working hours while on télétravail (home working) and one third of people said they had more desire for their partner since the second lockdown in October.

In total 18 percent of people said they are having more sex now than they did before the pandemic.

“I've got into the habit, since I've been working at home, of taking a little nap in the middle of the day,” web designer Tomas told Le Parsien, “and my girlfriend often joins me”.

“Sometimes we even warm up beforehand with very explicit messages. In the end, it doesn't take us long, we are very relaxed afterwards and just as efficient when we get back behind our screens to work. Frankly, it's better than a cigarette break in the cold outside the office.”
The trend was particularly marked among couples with children, when working hours have become time spent together at home without the children around.
“Unlike in the spring, the children are at school and without our travel time, our days are longer,” said Sophie, a civil servant based in Strasbourg, who works two days a week at home with her husband.
However, some of the participants told pollsters that lockdown and working from home had lead to a drop in morale and libido, while others said being with their partners all day dampened their desire.
The French government still recommends télétravail for those who can, but in January released an updated protocol adding extra days in office for those who wanted them, recognising the impact of loneliness and isolation on many home-workers.
The poll – entitled The sexual and emotional life of the French during the second lockdown – was carried out on 2,017 over-18s between November 24th and 30th.