New Zealand employment: How hard Kiwis are working

Kiwis are working longer hours than they ever have before (Getty)
Kiwis are working longer hours than they ever have before (Getty)

As we rapidly approach the end of the year, many Kiwis are clocking up long hours to finish up projects, sign off on annual contracts, or complete building jobs before a hard-earned summer break.

New Zealanders have a reputation for being hard workers, and comparing how long we work each week to people in other countries certainly bears this out.

Using condensed data available from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it is possible to build a snapshot of average hours worked per week by full-time employees in each OECD country.

Newshub has picked countries with similar standards of living to New Zealand, while also including those nations at both ends of the scale.

This particular OECD data was not available for the United States, Canada or Japan.

New Zealand employment: How hard Kiwis are working

As you can see, New Zealanders are working more weekly full-time hours (43.3) than our friends across the Tasman (42.6) or in the UK (42.7).

Chief economist for the CTU (Council of Trade Unions) Bill Rosenberg told Newshub the hours Kiwis work rose steeply in the 1990s because of New Zealand's low wage economy.

"They fell in the mid-2000s but have been rising again since 2010.

"The proportion of couples with children both working full-time has gone up since 2012, and this indicates people are working longer hours because they have to."

Mr Rosenberg says the current trend indicates work hours will increase, not decrease, for Kiwis in the coming years.

People in Turkey are working the longest, a staggering average of 51.2 hours a week for full-time employees.

The OECD rates Turkey a 0.0 in its work-life balance index.

According to the OECD data, Kiwis devote 62 percent of their day, or 14.9 hours, to personal care and leisure (including sleeping) while Australia's rate is lower, at 60 percent.

You can read into this that Kiwis are not taking as long to get to work as Australians, even though we are spending longer hours in the office or factory.

Australia's work-life balance is ranked 32 out of 38 nations, while New Zealand's ranking is much better at 20.

All countries in the EU are supposed to have a maximum 40-hour week for full-time employees, and this is born out in the low average hours worked in Sweden (39.7), the Netherlands (39.1) and the very lowest country, Denmark (38.3).

Considering France has a mandatory 35-hour working week contract for full-time employees, its average figure of 38.9 suggests this is not being adhered to by some employers.

While the OECD data was not available for the United States or Japan, we can find other sources to examine those countries' average working hours.

The large number of undocumented workers in the US means it is virtually impossible to get an accurate snapshot, but a study in 2015 by GetVoIP claimed Americans worked an average of 43 hours a week, just below New Zealand's OECD average of 43.3.

The GetVoIP study claimed Japanese workers clocked up 44.5 hours per work, only one hour a week more than New Zealand's average.

In general though, it appears Kiwis are working far more hours than people in the EU, and more hours than any other country that has a predominately Anglo-Saxon society.

So the saying "Kiwis work hard" is right on the money.

Enjoy your summer holidays, you've earned them.