Turns Out, the French Aren’t as Lazy as You Thought

Yeah, U.S. workers clock in over 40 hours a week, but now even the French are staying late at the office

It should come as no surprise that Americans really are workaholics—but the fact that even the French are clocking more hours might. That’s right, the French.

A new Gallup poll shows that the 40-hour workweek is indeed a myth in the United States. It found that U.S. workers spend an average of 47 hours a week on the job. Of the people surveyed, 50 percent actually reported working over 50 hours a week. Sadly, a mere 3 percent of salaried workers and 8 percent of hourly workers are lucky enough to trudge through less than 40 hours of work weekly in the U.S.

In light of these findings, it is unlikely that U.S. workers were feeling pity for the French this week when news hit that the country’s enviable 35-hour workweek policy might be scrapped. But in the wake of the economic downturn that has gripped economies worldwide, it turns out that workers in France aren’t experiencing 35-hour workweeks after all.

A report from the Green European Foundation, a European political foundation, found that French workers clock a total of 39.5 hours a week on average. The 35-hour workweek policy—which was instituted in 2000—doesn’t actually limit employees to just 9-to-4. Employers just have to pay workers more for the hours they go over. This means that even if France’s new economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, ends the 35-hour policy, it probably won’t drastically shake up the number of hours many French workers are at the office. It may, however, mean they don’t get the extra pay.

And while it is still doubtful that there are a bunch of Americans crying over the plight of the French worker right now, it might be a little comforting to know that even the country notorious for long lunch breaks and vacations is suffering.


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