In Serbia, on average, a working week lasts 41 hours a week. Out of other regional countries, the Montenegrins and Macedonians work longer than us, while workers in Hungary, Albania, Croatia and Romania work less than us, according to the latest data from the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Based on an analysis of a total of 130 countries, 59 countries have a working week that lasts less than 40 hours. People in Rwanda work the least while people in the United Arab Emirates, Myanmar and Qatar work the longest hours (10 a day).
Our country occupies a place in the middle on the list according to most parameters except for the time spent at work, where we top the list in the region.
In Serbia, 8.6 employees (every eleventh worker) work longer than 48 hours a week. Montenegro is next, with 8.4. In other neighbouring countries this parameter is much lower – Bulgaria is at the bottom of the list, where almost no-one works for more than 48 hours a week, or more precisely, only 0.8 percent of workers work 48 hours and more, while in Hungary this percentage stands at 4.1, in Macedonia at 3.8, and in Croatia at 4. Tanzania is in the first place where as many as 60 percent of employees work longer than 48 hours a week.
Ranka Savic, the president of the Association of Free and Independent Trade Unions, is not surprised to find that productivity is low in Serbia although Serbs are working longer than people in other regional countries and in Europe.
“When you have a lot of unemployed people, such as our country does, workers do not refuse an opportunity to work overtime. These mostly happens in shops where staff has to come in an hour earlier to set the shop, but also to leave later to prepare everything for tomorrow. Catering takes the second place and construction the third. The problem is that overtime work in Serbia is usually not paid, and the employer usually gives days off work in return, but the workers never get days off because they are constantly needed at work”, Savic adds.
Savic also says that, as of recently, civil workers have started doing overtime.
“Back in the day, this was not the case, but today, a good part of people employed in the Government, ministries and in many other sectors of state administration, will remain working until their superior leaves”, Savic said.
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Early surveys from 2010 show the state administration effectively worked three hours and 45 minutes a day, while those in the field worked 25 minutes longer. At the same time, people in private companies worked seven hours and 18 minutes effectively, which is almost four hours longer. The situation has changed in the meantime, employers have started to work longer hours but there is still room for improvement.
Consultant from the Business Support Network, Dragoljub Rajic, argues that working discipline can be improved in private companies as well.
“It is not employees fault all the time, but the problem can lie with the lack of good organization and obsolete technology. Private company owners also have a problem because their workers are often paid less than those in the public sector”, Rajic explained.
This post is also available in: Italiano