Germans rack up an average of 1,904 hours at work each year, while the French put in 1,679 hours, according to a top consulting firm’s list of the hardest working countries in Europe.
French consulting firm COERexecode, used raw data from European statistical agency Eurostat to draw up a list of how hard different nations work.
The figures, reported in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Friday, relate to average working hours during 2010 and take into account time missed because of illness or otherwise.
Ahead of Germany were Poland, Greece and Hungary where employees worked for around 2,010 annual hours at work put them in second place on the list.
But it was Romania who bagged the top spot, with workers there busy for 2,095 hours in 2010.
Between 1999 and 2010, the working time in France declined by 271 hours, from 1,968 to 1,679 hours a year. Perhaps embarrassingly for the French, this is the largest drop in working hours across the whole of Europe.
The results are staggeringly different for Europe’s freelancers , especially in France which ranked alongside Germany and Austria as Europe’s hardest self-employed workers.
In Germany freelancers work an average of 2,459 hours a year, while in France they work for 2,453 hours.
The results have caused a stir in France, re-kindling the country’s debate about working hours regulations, the FAZ said. Until recently employees could only work a maximum of 35 hours a week – anything more than this was considered overtime and had to be paid accordingly.
France’s socialist party, who introduced the concept at the end of the nineties, have questioned COERexecode’s calculation methods.
In the past few years the 35-hour week laws have been relaxed by the French government to a certain extent, with companies and unions now allowed to discuss exemptions to the rule. This was promised by Sarkozy at the beginning of his term as president in 2007.