Statistics South Africa has published its latest Labour Market Dynamics report, detailing how much time employees spend at work each week.
The data shows that the total hours worked in the country has steadily decreased in the last five years, with 71.7 million fewer hours worked each year between 2015 and 2020.
This can be partly attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic, with men and women across most sectors working far less as a result of stay-at-home orders and lockdown restrictions.
South African men typically work longer hours than women, with the average weekly hours worked by men decreasing by one hour to 44 hours in 2020.
By comparison, the average time weekly hours worked by women decreased by one hour between 2015 and 2020 to 40 hours a week.
Employees working in private households, which includes domestic workers and gardeners, typically spend the least time at work at an average of 34 hours.
“The average weekly hours worked increased only among the skilled agricultural occupations over the period 2015 and 2020,” Statistics South Africa said.
“The highest decreases in the average hours worked were observed in sales and services (three hours) and Managers (two hours) while the average hours worked remained unchanged for plant and machine operators. However, average hours worked decreased by one hour for domestic workers, professionals, technicians, clerks, elementary as well as craft and related trade occupations.”
Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that other developing countries such as Colombia (47.6 hours a week), Turkey (45.6 hours a week) and Mexico (44.7 hours a week) all had higher average working hours.
By comparison, workers in more developed economies typically work far less on average, with the United States (38.7 hours a week), New Zealand (37.8 hours a week) and the United Kingdom (36.3 hours a week) all working under the 40-hour mark.