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Average Working Hours In The UK

Average Working Hours In The UK

Welcome to our insightful exploration of the UK’s work culture, where we delve into the nuances of the UK average working hour per week. This blog aims to shed light on the intricacies of working life in the United Kingdom, focusing on the average weekly hours clocked by both part-time and full-time workers. As we navigate through various aspects of the work environment, from legal frameworks to health and well-being, our goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of how the average working week is structured and evolves in the UK. Whether you’re an employer, a full-time professional, or a part-time worker seeking clarity, this blog offers valuable insights into the dynamics of working hours in the UK’s diverse and ever-changing job market.

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Highlights And Key Takeaways:

  1. The average weekly working hours of full-time workers in the UK is 36.4 hours per week.
  2. The average UK working hours of part-time workers is 16.4 hours per week.
  3. Over the past three decades, the average working hours per week of full-time workers has decreased from 38.1 hours per week, and for part-time workers has increased from 14.8 hours per week.

Understanding The Standard Average Weekly Working Hours

Understanding Average Working Hours Per Week

When discussing the work culture in the United Kingdom, it’s crucial to understand what constitutes ‘standard working hours.’ Generally, standard working hours refer to the typical duration an employee is expected to work during a week. In the UK, this is most commonly associated with the 9:00 am to 5:00 pm workday. When calculated across a standard five-day workweek, this amounts to a 40-hour workweek. However, it’s important to note that these hours represent a traditional framework and can vary depending on the employer and the nature of the job.

In recent statistics, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that for the period May to July 2023, the average actual weekly hours of a full-time worker in the UK stood at 36.4 hours. This figure reflects a slight deviation from the conventional 40-hour week, indicating a trend towards slightly shorter working weeks in some sectors.

The variations in working hours are particularly pronounced across different sectors and job roles. For instance, in industries such as healthcare or hospitality, employees might work longer hours or have shifts that extend beyond the typical 9-00 am to 5-00 pm schedule. Conversely, in the tech industry or creative fields, there’s an increasing adoption of flexible working hours, where employees have the liberty to choose their working hours as long as they meet their weekly work commitments. For a breakdown of the average weekly hours by business sector, read – Do Average Hours Vary In Different Sectors?

Furthermore, part-time roles, which are a significant portion of the UK workforce, naturally have shorter average working hours per week. These roles are tailored to individuals who may be balancing work with other commitments such as education or family responsibilities.

Understanding these variations is key for both employers and employees. It enables employers to structure work schedules that maximise productivity while respecting employees’ work-life balance. For workers, it’s about finding a role that aligns with their personal and professional needs, be it a traditional 9-5 setup or a more flexible arrangement. This knowledge helps in navigating the UK job market and understanding the work culture better. To delve deeper into careers that might be right for you, read our guide – Best Industries To Work In: UK Careers.

Full-Time Vs Part-Time: What’s The Norm?

Average Working Hours Per Week Of Full Time Workers

In the UK, understanding the distinction between full-time and part-time work is crucial for both employers and the average British worker. Full-time work is typically defined as a workweek that ranges from 35 to 40 hours. This standard is what most full-time workers adhere to, though there are variations depending on the employer and the specific job role.

Full-Time Worker Hours in the UK:

Over the years, there’s been a notable shift in the average work hours for full-time workers in the UK. According to recent statistics, the average weekly hours for a full-time worker stood at 36.4 hours in 2023. This figure has gradually decreased from 37.6 hours in 201337.4 hours in 2003, and 38.1 hours in 1993. This trend reflects an evolving work culture that is gradually moving away from the traditional 40-hour workweek.

Part-Time Worker Hours in the UK:

Part-time workers, on the other hand, have a different standard for average work hours. Part-time workers in the UK averaged 16.4 hours per week in 2023. This figure has shown a steady increase over the past decades, from 16 hours in 201315.6 hours in 2003, to 14.8 hours in 1993. This rise in part-time hours indicates a growing preference or need among a segment of the workforce to engage in part-time employment, possibly due to personal commitments or a desire for a better work-life balance.

The rise of flexible working patterns has been a significant factor in these shifts. More employers are recognising the benefits of offering flexible working arrangements, which can include options like remote working (read – What Jobs Can I Do Working From Home?), flexitime, and compressed workweeks. These patterns not only cater to the changing needs of the average British worker but also align with a broader global shift towards work-life balance and employee well-being.

For both full-time and part-time workers, these changing norms around working hours signify a more adaptable and employee-centric work environment. Employers who embrace these trends are likely to benefit from higher employee satisfaction and productivity, while workers gain the flexibility to tailor their work commitments to fit their lifestyles better.

Legal Framework Governing Average Working Hours

Working Time Regulations 1998

The Working Time Regulations 1998 form the cornerstone of the legal framework governing working hours in the UK. This legislation sets out the maximum working hours per week, providing essential protections for workers across various sectors.

Central to these regulations is the stipulation that the maximum hours a worker should work in a week is capped at 48 hours, averaged over a 17-week period. This rule is designed to prevent excessively long hours that could harm workers’ health and safety. However, it’s important to note that there is an opt-out option available. Employees can choose to work more than 48 hours per week if they agree to it in writing, giving them flexibility while ensuring their consent is taken into account.

Special Considerations

Despite this general rule, there are special considerations for certain sectors and roles. For instance, workers in emergency services and military personnel often have unique working time arrangements due to the nature of their work. These roles may require working the longest hours or most hours in a week, necessitating a different approach to Working Time Regulations.

In sectors like nursing and the education sector, the demands can lead to questions such as how much unpaid overtime is worked? Nurses, in particular, may work long hours due to the demands of patient care, while teachers often take work home, adding to their working hours.

Adequate Rest Breaks

Adequate rest breaks are another crucial aspect of the Working Time Regulations. These breaks are mandated to ensure employees do not work excessively long hours without appropriate periods of rest. This is particularly relevant in sectors such as food services, where workers may engage in extended periods of continuous work.

Each sector has its unique challenges and requirements, and the regulations are designed to be flexible enough to accommodate these while protecting worker welfare. Whether it’s the education sector, where staff might need to prepare lessons outside of school hours, or food services work, where shifts might extend late into the night, the emphasis is always on balancing operational needs with the health and safety of employees.

Overall, the Working Time Regulations 1998 provide a framework that seeks to balance the demands of various work environments with the need to limit the number of hours and ensure adequate rest for workers. This legal framework is essential for maintaining a healthy, safe, and productive workforce across all sectors in the UK. You can read further on Working Time Regulations, The Working Time Directive, Maximum Working Hours, Special Considerations, and Adequate Rest Breaks in our guide – UK Employment Hours: A Comprehensive Guide To Work Hours.

The Health And Work-Life Balance Aspect

Average Weekly Hours And Work Life Balance

The relationship between working hours and the health and well-being of employees cannot be overstated. The impact of long or irregular hours, including unpaid overtime and extended commuting times, can be significant. It’s essential for both employers and employees to understand how these factors can affect physical and mental health.

The importance of work-life balance is paramount. British workers work, on average, some of the longest hours in Europe, which can lead to stress and burnout. Ensuring that employees have enough free time outside their normal hours is crucial for their overall well-being. This balance is not just beneficial for the individual but can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

For employers, creating a healthy work environment involves several key strategies:

  1. Recognise the Value of Time Off: Encourage employees to take advantage of their minimum paid holiday allowance. Time away from work helps employees recharge and can lead to improved performance when they return.
  2. Monitor Overtime: While some unpaid overtime might be inevitable, it’s important to monitor its frequency. Regularly working extra hours can be a sign of excessive workload or inefficiency, which can harm employees’ health.
  3. Ensure Adequate Weekly Rest: Under UK Government regulations, employees are entitled to minimum rest periods. Employers should ensure these are adhered to, allowing employees sufficient time to recover from the demands of their jobs.
  4. Consider Commuting Times: With commuting being a significant part of many employees’ days, offering flexible working hours or remote work options can greatly improve work-life balance.
  5. Promote a Culture of Well-being: Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their workload and work-life balance. Regular check-ins and an open-door policy can be effective.
  6. Offer Support for Mental Health: Mental health is just as important as physical health. Providing resources and support for mental well-being should be a priority.

In summary, the health and work-life balance of employees is a critical component of a productive and sustainable workforce. By acknowledging the effects of working hours and creating strategies to address them, employers can ensure a healthier, happier, and more efficient team. This approach benefits not only the individual workers but the organisation as a whole.

Changes In Average Weekly Hours

The landscape of working hours in the UK has undergone significant changes in recent years, influenced by various factors including technological advancements and societal shifts. These changes have reshaped the way British employees work and have implications for the average person’s work-life balance.

One of the most notable trends is the evolution of the traditional working shift. With technology enabling more flexible work environments, the rigid 9-5 schedule is becoming less prevalent. This shift allows employees to work hours that better suit their personal lives, improving overall job satisfaction and productivity.

The rise of remote work, accelerated by the pandemic, has been a game-changer. With whole industries shutting down temporarily and Britain’s workforce adapting to work from home, there has been a significant impact on the hours worked. This shift has led to a re-evaluation of the necessity of long commutes and rigid office hours. Remote work has also blurred the lines between personal and professional life, highlighting the need for clear boundaries to maintain work-life balance.

The influence of technology cannot be overstated. Digital tools have made remote collaboration more efficient but also have the potential to extend work hours as employees remain connected beyond traditional office hours. This connectivity, while beneficial in many ways, poses challenges in terms of ensuring adequate rest and disconnection from work.

Looking ahead, post-pandemic trends in working hours are likely to further embrace flexibility. The traditional concept of a fixed workday is being replaced by a more fluid approach, where output and productivity are prioritised over the number of hours logged. This shift is expected to continue as employers and employees alike recognise the benefits of flexible working arrangements.

In conclusion, the future of work in the UK is likely to be characterised by increased flexibility, with an emphasis on balancing productivity with the well-being of employees. This evolving landscape presents an opportunity for both employers and workers to redefine what constitutes a productive workday, taking into account the diverse needs and preferences of Britain’s workforce. Interested in how Britain’s work week compares to the rest of the world? Read our latest blog – Does Britain Work More Hours Than The Rest Of The World/Europe/America?

Responsibilities And Rights

Rights Of Part And Full Time Workers

In the UK, both employers and workers have specific responsibilities and rights concerning working hours, which are crucial for maintaining a fair and productive work environment.

For Workers:

Workers in the UK are entitled to certain rights regarding their working hours. This includes the right to a maximum weekly working time, rest breaks during work, and daily and weekly rest periods. Workers should be aware that they are typically not required to work more than an average of 48 hours per week, unless they choose to opt out.

UK staff also have rights regarding overtime. While some industries might expect employees to work additional hours, workers should know when this overtime is expected to be paid and when it is not. Understanding these rights ensures that workers can make informed decisions about their working hours and can speak up if they feel their rights are being compromised.

Finally, workers should be aware of their entitlement to paid annual leave. This time off is crucial for maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life, allowing the average person to rest and recuperate from their work duties.

For Employers:

Employers have a fundamental responsibility to adhere to legal standards regarding working hours. This includes ensuring compliance with regulations on maximum working periods, daily rest, and breaks. It is crucial for employers to monitor the time spent by their staff on work-related activities, ensuring that they do not work more hours than what is legally permissible or healthy.

Beyond legal compliance, there’s a growing expectation for employers to create flexible, healthy work environments. This shift aligns with the needs of the average Brit, who is increasingly seeking a better balance between their professional and personal lives. By offering flexible working options, employers can cater to the diverse needs of their workforce, resulting in a more satisfied and productive team.

Implementing health and well-being initiatives is also essential. These could include providing mental health support, ensuring adequate daily rest, and promoting a culture that values breaks and time off. The current figure of UK workers seeking greater work-life balance should be a driving force behind these initiatives.

In summary, the responsibilities and rights of both employers and workers play a pivotal role in shaping the work culture in the UK. By understanding and respecting these, both parties can contribute to a more equitable, healthy, and productive working environment.

Crafting Effective Job Listings: Emphasising Clarity and Detail

Utilising a comprehensive UK job description template or job advert template is key when advertising a position. It’s essential to distinctly indicate whether the role is full-time or part-time, and to detail the anticipated hours of work. This level of precision from the beginning simplifies the hiring process and guarantees that prospective candidates fully comprehend the requirements and expectations associated with the role.

Average Working Hours FAQs

Average Weekly Hours FAQs

Let is now answer any remaining questions you may have on average UK working hours:


In the United Kingdom, the standard working hours are typically from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. This equates to a 40-hour workweek. However, work patterns can vary widely across different sectors and roles, with some employers offering flexible working arrangements. It’s important to note that these hours are a general guide and can differ based on specific job requirements and employer policies. 


Yes, 37.5 hours a week is commonly considered full-time employment in the UK. Many organisations define a full-time workweek as between 35 and 40 hours, with 37.5 hours being a standard middle ground. This work schedule typically spans five days, with 7.5 hours of work each day. 


A 9-5 job, operating under the traditional work hours, totals 8 hours per day. If we consider a standard workweek of Monday to Friday, this amounts to 40 hours per week. This calculation assumes a continuous work period without including a lunch break, which is typically unpaid. 


Yes, working 50 hours a week is legal in the UK, but there are regulations in place. The Working Time Regulations 1998 stipulate that an average working week, including overtime, shouldn’t exceed 48 hours over a 17-week period, unless the worker has opted out of this limit. However, certain jobs and industries have different rules. It’s essential for employers to ensure workers’ health and safety are not compromised by excessive working hours. 

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