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Working week variations around the globe

September 2, 2016

Depositphotos.com/ © SergeyNivens
Depositphotos.com/ © SergeyNivens

A few weeks back we posted an article outlining some of the unusual public holidays around the globe (if you don’t yet know about Melon Day, check out the blog now). However, it’s not just public holidays that can differ, countries can also have varied approaches to the working week.

Here are just a few noteworthy examples:

  • China: I’m sure many of you will have heard the various reports that a lunch break increases productivity and concentration. In order to ensure staff are highly energised, employees in China are actively encouraged to take longer lunch breaks.
  • Denmark: The country reportedly has the highest employee satisfaction rate in the world, but how do they achieve this? By being more leisurely. Staff factor in at least six hours of leisure each day alongside the time they spend at work and sleeping.
  • France: Perhaps known for its lengthy luncheons, it’s less common knowledge that lunch vouchers are mandatory in France if there isn’t an on-site canteen – a scheme that around 3.5 million individuals benefit from.
  • Germany: At a time when workers across the global are becoming accustomed to 24/7 access to emails, Germany has taken on a whole new approach. In a reversal of many behaviours, the country’s Employment Ministry has introduced guidelines banning employers from contacting staff outside of normal working hours.
  • Japan: We’ve all had that moment in the afternoon where we felt like a quick nap, but in Japan this is actually encouraged in the workplace. Staff can take power naps during lunch in order to improve productivity.
  • Norway: It’s a little known fact that working more than 40 hours per week can actually make you less productive. In order to get the most out of staff, employees in Norway only work around 30 – 35 hours per week – approximately six hours a day.
  • Sweden: It’s common for staff in the country to take between four and six weeks off around the summer holidays – something many UK parents might be wishing they had as we near the end of the school break!

While working practices vary from country to country and even business to business, contractors operating across borders should ensure they’re well aware of what constitutes a working week in the country that they’re operating before committing to a move. Perhaps more importantly, though, they also need to make sure that they remain compliant with local tax laws.

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