Current guidelines

Current international guidelines on the measurement of working time were adopted by the 10th International Conference of Labour Statisticians in 1962. The Resolution concerning statistics of hours of work provides guidelines on two types of hours of work measures: the hours actually worked and the normal hours of work. These measures are circumscribed only to wage earners and salaried employees.

Normal hours of work

The “normal hours of work” are the hours that workers are expected to spend on work activities during a short reference period such as one day or one week, as stipulated in laws or regulations, collective agreements or arbitral awards, or establishments' rules or customs.

Hours actually worked

The “hours actually worked” are the hours that workers spent on work activities during a specified reference period. It is presented as a list of elements of a day of work or “work components”, including:

  • productive time (hours actually worked during normal periods of work and time worked in addition to hours worked during normal periods of work, and generally paid at higher rates than normal rates (overtime);
  • time spent on ancillary activities (time spent at the place of work on work such as the preparation of the workplace, repairs and maintenance, preparation and cleaning of tools and the preparation of receipts, time sheets and reports),
  • unproductive time spent in the course of the production process (time spent at the place of work waiting or standing-by for such reasons as lack of supply of work, breakdown of machinery. or accidents, or time spent at the place of work during which no work is done but for which payment is made under a guaranteed employment contract), and
  • resting time (time corresponding to short rest periods at the workplace, including tea and coffee breaks).

The definition explicitly excludes time not worked, even if paid, such as paid annual leave, paid public holidays, paid sick leave, meal breaks and time spent on travel from home to work and vice versa.