Today is International Workers’ Day, the origins of which date back to May Day 1886 when 200,000 US workmen engineered a nationwide strike for an eight-hour day. Since then many countries and supranational organizations have introduced regulations on the number of hours an employer can expect an employee to work.
Today, working hours across the world are falling, but considerable variation remains, writes Peter Dolton in his article Working hours: Past, present, and future.
“For many countries, there has been a steady slow monotonic decline in working hours over time (Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the US). But there are countries that have experienced variable demand for labor and hours of work, namely: Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.”
But what about the future of work? Dolton asks, "Do many office workers actually put in more hours out of the office by, for example, answering emails on the move whilst commuting, in the evenings, and at weekends? Might this trend, along with 'working from home,' lead to even more blurred distinctions between working and non-working hours?"
Read further articles on the impact of working time on the labor market:
What do working hours look like around the world? Read our concise, topical overview of country labor markets.