Recent statistics show that the average full-time employee in Switzerland worked 42.6 hours a week.
This is slightly less than an average Icelander (42.9) – the longest working – but 13% longer than the average in leisurely France (37.4), the european nation putting in the fewest hours.
Switzerland also came second on a broader measure: average hours worked per week by everyone 15 or over – see chart below. This includes those not working and provides an indication of how much work a country does as a whole. Again the leader is Iceland (31.2), followed by Switzerland (23.4). At the bottom lie Greece (16.6) and Italy (16.1).
Greece shows the greatest contrast between average full-time employee hours and the average for the population. Full time employees there put in 40.2 hours a week, but there are relatively few of them so the average hours for the population 15 and over shrinks to 16.6 hours.
Labour force participation rates are a key driver of average hours worked across the total population. Iceland (89.0%) and Switzerland (83.9%) come first and second in Europe on this measure for those aged 15 to 65. Italy (64.9%) and Greece (68.2%) are both near the bottom. The biggest differences are among those over 64: Iceland (40.6%), Switzerland (12.1%), Greece (3.2%), Italy (4.0%), and those between 15 and 24: Iceland (82.5%), Switzerland (68.4%%), Greece (24.6%), Italy (26.6%).
Work hour averages hide important detail. Some work far longer than others.
In Switzerland, compared to regular employees, the self-employed (+22%), business owners (+11%) and the family of family owned businesses (+15%) all work on average more hours.
In terms of industry, full-time farmers (47.2), hotel and restaurant workers (42.8) and health sector employees (42.2) work the most. Information and communication staff (41.2) and teachers (41.4) have the shortest working weeks.
In addition, workers in Switzerland are productive. According to the OECD one hour of work in Switzerland delivers US$68 of GDP after adjusting for purchasing power. This is 27% above the EU average of US$53. Iceland (US$61), Greece (US$35) and Italy (US$54) are all lower.
There are six european countries that come in ahead of Switzerland: Ireland (US$96), Luxembourg (US$94), Norway (US$78), Belgium (US$73), Denmark (US$73) and Germany (US$68). And, France’s short working week does not appear to make workers more productive than Swiss ones. In France an average hour of work delivers US$67 of purchasing power adjusted GDP, US$1 less than Switzerland – figures are for 2016.
If you’re choosing a career in Switzerland and looking for long holidays then teaching, with 6.3 weeks a year, would be the best bet, and farming the worst (4.6). The Swiss average is 5.1 weeks.