We work fewer hours than rest of EU -- except Danes
IRISH people work fewer hours than any other nation in Europe bar the Danes, according to new EU figures.
Irish employees put in just 38.4 hours a week last year -- or two hours fewer than the European average, the EU statistics agency Eurostat said yesterday.
Only the Danes work less.
Other work-shy nations include the Dutch and the Italians. The British work the longest hours, followed by the Austrians and Bulgarians.
Men put in longer working hours than women among full-time employees in all EU states. In Ireland, men work an average of three hours longer every week than their female counterparts.
While some people may be surprised to find that Irish employees work fewer hours, not many public servants in other countries enjoy the sort of contracts common in the Irish civil service.
Hospital consultants here must only work for 37 hours a week, while teachers, academics, judges and TDs enjoy some of the longest holidays in Europe. Early retirement for gardai and firefighters also helps to reduce the average working week.
In the private sector, long, informal holidays are common over Christmas, and few offices or factories open before 9am -- while 8am or even 6am starts are common in many places in Europe. Most countries also skip national holidays if they fall on a Saturday or Sunday.
"I suspect this is reflective of the public sector," said Dr Tom Turner, an employment expert at the University of Limerick.
"There probably isn't a big difference between the private sector here and elsewhere."
The survey, by the EU's respected statistics office, does not compare how hard people work or how effectively. It simply uses figures collected in the same way across the 27 member states to measure how many hours a week they work.
Eurostat figures show the proportion of people aged between 20 and 64 in work has fallen since the economic crisis began. Just 68.6pc of this age cohort were working across the Union in 2010 compared to 69.1pc in 2009 and 70.4pc in 2008.
The highest employment rates are in Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Cyprus. The lowest rates were recorded in Malta, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Romania.