working timeDoes Luxembourg work more than its neighbors?
LUXEMBOURG – The debate over the possible abolition of the 40-hour week in Luxembourg has begun, as has the fight over numbers.
The debate about the possible reduction in working hours, which has been going on for several months, promises to be a political highlight in the coming months, with an essential question between the lines: Do nationals and cross-border commuters work more than employees? neighboring countries ? The Grand Duchy is one of the countries where the legal duration is the longest (40 hours), unlike, for example, France (35 hours).
In practice, however, the number of hours worked over a year appears to be much more balanced. “The average number of hours worked by a person in Luxembourg in 2019 is 1,506 hours compared to 1,576 in Belgium and 1,511 in France. Only Germany is far behind with 1,382 hours, while the average in the OECD countries is 1,593 hours,” explains Jean-Baptiste Nivet, Senior Economist at the Chamber of Commerce.
“Part-time work, parental leave or public holidays affect the work performance of employees over the course of the year. This number also fell by 60 hours between 2007 and 2019.” For the Chamber of Commerce, the observation is clear: the reduction in working hours has been initiated in practice for several years.
The Department of Labor has provided additional figures on the number of hours worked by workers over the course of a year, based on a 2019 Statec study. full time. With 1,701 hours, the Luxembourgers are well ahead of the Germans (1,677 hours), the French (1,545 hours) and the Belgians (1,495 hours). Barely arrived at the head of the ministry, Georges Engel (LSAP) said he was in favor of reducing working hours, in particular “to be able to better reconcile private and professional life”.
“It’s a societal decision. But it would not be without effect. So companies will try to catch up with the drop in the productivity rate, which will have a negative impact on wages,” explains Mr Nivet, who predicts the risk of “loss of purchasing power” and an increase in labor shortages in certain sectors. And the economist specifies that the current inflationary context turns out to be less favorable “than 4 or 5 years ago”.
“Great Social Change”
The Chamber of Commerce therefore recalls that, according to the Eurobarometer, working hours are not among the “most important problems” in Luxembourg for the winter of 2021/2022. Housing and inflation came first, but the environment and climate change came third.
However, a reduction in working hours would send a strong signal in the direction of a less productive and ultimately more sustainable society. Minister Engel agrees with the IHK on at least one point: “A reduction in working hours would be a major social change”.