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Why the French work less than others

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Why the French work less than others

REUTERS / Russell Boyce

Since the legal weekly working time increased to 35 hours in France, in 2000, the idea that the French work less than their European counterparts is regularly advanced by critics of Aubry laws, namely the right. Well, it's true: the annual actual working hours of full-time workers in France is one of the lowest in Europe, according to a study published Wednesday Coe-Rexecode. The law firm of Economic Studies, near the business, citing unpublished figures from Eurostat, the European statistical institute.

According to these data, the French full-time employees worked 1,679 hours on average in 2010, ie 224 hours less than the Germans, 177 hours less than the British and 134 hours less than the Italians. This is the lowest level of the European Union, with Finland. The trend is downward in all European countries, but it was twice as high in France (-13.9% between 1999 and 2010) and Germany (-6.1%). Blame the 35 hours, according to Coe-Rexecode, which have resulted in a 9% decrease mechanical work time.

However, these figures do not appear at first sight consistent with other statistical sources. According to the OECD, for example, the French employed worked an average of 1,562 hours in 2010, 143 hours more than the Germans (1419 hours). But Coe-Rexecode says the OECD data are extrapolated annual national accounts of the country and they cover all workers, employees and non-employees, full and part time. Now the part-time higher in Germany (26% of employees) than in France (18%).

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