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

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.

“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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