Greece and Cyprus record highest decrease in work hours

It will come as no surprise to discover that in the first year of the pandemic, the number of actual hours worked in a main job in the EU decreased by 12.0% with Greece and Cyprus recording amongst the biggest decreases at -19.7% and -15% respectively, compared to 2019.

According to the latest data by Eurostat this decrease can be explained by the measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with Greece joined by Spain (-19.5%), Portugal and Italy (both -19.0%) of countries that recorded the sharpest decrease.
The EU countries where there was little change in hours worked (with a reduction of less than 5%) were: Finland (-4.4%), Denmark and Luxembourg (both -4.1%) and the Netherlands (-3.2%).

Throughout the EU, 26.9 million employed people reported that they had worked less than their usual working hours in 2020. This compared with 24.4 million employed persons working less than their usual working hours in 2019.

The primary reason for the increase in the number of people working fewer hours than usual in 2020 was the temporary lay-off: the number of temporary lay-offs ballooned from 0.5 million in 2019 to 3.9 million in 2020. In addition, 5.8 million people worked less hours than usual for other reasons (which namely include parental and special leave, education and training) in 2020, up from 4.7 million in 2019.