Working time statistics

Working time statistics relate to statistics on the hours of work and on the scheduling of these hours.

The hours of work relates to any period of time spent on activities which contribute to the production of goods and services.

The scheduling of the hours of work relates to the periods during the day, week or month when work is done: whether in the morning, afternoon, evening, from Monday to Friday, on weekends, as overtime, etc.

The scheduling of the hours of work can be combined with the hours of work and information on their fixed or variable nature to derive a vast number of different working time arrangements, which relate to schedules that are different from regular full-time working schedules, i.e., where workers are required by their employer or choose (a) to work less or more than full-time, (b) only part of the year, (c) only part of the week, (d) at night, (e) on weekends, (f) to enter or exit at different times (g) and/or to have variable daily or weekly schedules as part of flexible schedules or as part of “annualised” working schemes, which fix working time over a long period of one year, allowing weekly schedules to vary.

Statistical definitions and legal definitions

When producing statistics of working time it is important to take into account the influence of legal definitions of working time. Indeed, working time defined for measurement purposes may differ from working time defined in labour laws. Labour laws are usually tailor-made to fit the objectives of the particular groups of employers and unions involved. They are specific to groups of workers and are often not comparable between them. They are, however, useful for labour management negotiations for the groups of workers concerned. The measurement of working time, on the other hand, should provide national (or regional) estimates which are comparable between groups of workers. This requires standard concepts which may exclude, for particular groups of workers, time spent on activities which are included in labour laws. An example may relate to lunch time, which may be considered as hours of work and be paid under a particular collective agreement, but which should be excluded from the statistical definition. Other examples relate to commuting time, time spent on military service or on jury service. They may also include time spent on activities which are excluded in labour laws. Examples are time spent changing clothes and other preparatory time, which may be excluded from working time in work contracts and is not paid, but which is included in the statistical definition. Other examples include work at home and overtime when unpaid. It is important to understand the different objectives and applications of the two types of concepts in order to collect and analyse data appropriately.