The challenges of contemporary labour market make it necessary to verify the approach to arranging working time. Workers expect more flexibility and work-life balance. Employers, on the other hand, want well-rested and creative employees - especially in the developing sectors of the digital economy. The 40-hour working week has been in use in European countries for a century, although the productivity of work during this period has increased significantly. The pandemic also forced many employees to work from home and modify working time calculation.
On November 6, a conference summarizing the ENGAGED project was held. Partners from Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia and North Macedonia presented the results of their two-year research study. The comparative report covered the issues of working time regulation as well as statistics showing trends in this area in the partners countries. The average weekly working time has decreased in the last decade in the analysed countries , with the lowest levels in Spain and Italy. By contrast, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans recorded relatively high values of average weekly working time. The trend of decreasing working time applied to both women and men, but in the latter group it was greater, which allowed to reduce the gap in the working time of women and men. In the public administration sector, working time was shorter than the average in the national economies (except for Lithuania). This is due to the shorter working hours agreed in collective agreements in Spain (37.5 hours per week) and Italy (36 hours per week). In Central and Eastern Europe and Western Balkans, lower average working time is an effect of less overtime in public administration than in the private sector.
The partners also presented a code of good practices in the field of innovative working time arrangements: in Lithuania - introducing additional days off for social workers under the collective agreement, in Poland - shortening the working time to 33.7 hours a week for shift workers and down to 39 hours a week for administration and research employees in one of the large industrial plants in the country, in Serbia - flexible working arrangements during a pandemic. More good practices can be found in the project publication.
During the last session, the partners presented a set of recommendations addressed to the parliaments of their countries, employers and trade unions. These include, for example, the reduction of weekly working time, the introduction of flexible working hours, the right to disconnect, or more advanced solutions, such as the possibility of choosing between an annual salary raise and additional free time (settled on a weekly basis or aggregated in the form of additional vacation days).
Reports are available under the following links:
Code of good practices
Description of the project
The project is co-financed from the European Union Funds, budget heading ‘Improving Expertise in the field of Industrial Relations’. Grant agreement number: VP/2019/0100.