Working Time in the United Kingdom: Evidence from the Labour Force Survey

11 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2005


This article examines the evolution of working time from a macroeconomic perspective using data from the Labour Force Survey. Its main findings can be summarised as follows:

Once one abstracts from the effects of overtime, average hours worked are still falling. This can largely be accounted for by the rise in the proportion of part-time workers (though recent changes in full-timers' and part-timers' hours remain puzzling).

Above and beyond the full-time/part-time split, changes in employment composition by industry, gender, occupation, employment status and age explain little of this downward trend.

Overtime has shifted from being paid towards being unpaid. Changes in the occupational mix can account for some of this shift.

Paid overtime is the only component of hours that exhibits strong cyclicality. All other components lag GDP and in some cases lag employment too. This is consistent with aggregate changes in hours being the result of compositional effects (for example, changes in the shares of long-hours and short-hours workers), rather than those in the same job changing their hours.

Suggested Citation

Shortall, Fergal, Working Time in the United Kingdom: Evidence from the Labour Force Survey. Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Summer 2002, Available at SSRN:

Fergal Shortall (Contact Author)

Bank of England ( email )

Threadneedle Street
London, EC2R 8AH
United Kingdom

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