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Definition: Hours worked (Index)

Short-term statistics

2006 definition

It is the objective of the hours worked index to show the development in the volume of work done.

The total number of hours worked represents the aggregate number of hours actually worked for the output of the observation unit during the reference period (1).

This variable excludes hours paid but not actually worked such as for annual leave, holidays and sickness leave. It also excludes meal breaks and commuting between home and work.

Included are hours actually worked during normal working hours; hours worked in addition to those; time which is spent at the place of work on tasks such as preparing the site and time corresponding to short periods of rest at the work place.

If the exact number of hours actually worked is not known, it may be estimated on the basis of the normal number of working hours and the average rate of absences (sickness, maternity, etc.).

According to this definition, the items included are:

- the total amount of all hours actually worked:
 --- during regular working hours,
--- overtime, whether paid or unpaid (2),
--- during nights, Sundays or public holidays,
- the time spent on tasks such as work preparation, preparing, maintaining and cleaning tools and machines and writing up work cards and reports,
- time spent at the place of work during which no work is done owing to, for example, machine stoppages, accidents or occasional lack of work but for which payment is made in accordance with the employment contract,
- short rest periods at the place of work, including tea and coffee breaks.

The items excluded are:

- hours paid but not worked due to leave, sickness, accidents, strikes, lock outs, slack time, etc.,
- time spent for meal breaks,
- commuting between home and work.


(1) Total hours worked may be approximated by hours worked by employees, at least in industry.
(2) Data on unpaid overtime work is difficult to obtain in various Member States but is, nevertheless, included as a matter of principle. Regulation (EC) No 588/2001 of 26 March 2001 concerning short-term statistics
European Union, Commission Regulation (EC) No 1503/2006 of 28 September 2006 implementing and amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1165/98 concerning short-term statistics as regards definitions of variables, list of variables and frequency of data compilation