Dutch work the most Sunday and evening hours in the EU

Dutch work the most Sunday and evening hours in the EU

According to new figures from Leuven University's knowledge centre in Belgium, Steunpunt Werk, people in the Netherlands work the most Sunday and evening hours in Europe.

Unsocial working hours in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, almost three in ten people occasionally work in the evening. This is much higher than the European average of 13,7 percent. Moreover, according to the research, one in five workers clock in on Sundays, an increase of almost 20 percent compared with 2006.

In the Netherlands, many supermarkets are open until 10pm and a great number also open on Sundays. In addition, multiple online retailers offer package deliveries outside office hours and on weekends. Working demands such as these contribute to the flexible working hours that typify the Dutch economy.

The law has a part to play when it comes to the prevalence of evening and Sunday working hours in the Netherlands. In Belgium, for example, there are very strict rules on working outside regular hours.

“[I]n some cases it is even forbidden”, researcher at Steunpunt Werk Dr. Sarah Vansteenkiste voices. She adds that “Regulations in the Netherlands offer a lot of flexibility and e-commerce takes advantage of this.” Jobs that offer such hours are often for low-skilled workers in the service sector or distribution centres for online shops. 

Good for the Dutch economy

Whilst regulations in the Netherlands allow for flexible working hours, this does not mean that no rules are in place to safeguard workers from working many unsocial hours. “Working unlimited night shifts is also not allowed here”, says Tom Wilthagen, a labour market expert.

According to Wilthagen, working in the evening and weekend is good for the Dutch economy and consumers. Furthermore, neither is bad for your health, he asserts, “If you are happy with your working hours, and the majority of people are, then there isn’t a problem.”

The gender divide

According to the study, women work more often during the weekend than men. In fact, almost 30 percent of women work during the weekend compared to 25,5 percent of men, and when you just look at Sunday, 22,3 percent of women work in contrast with 17,4 percent of men.

The reason for this trend is, as Vansteenkiste reports, due to the sectors predominantly worked in by women. Examples include the care sector, with has plenty of weekend shifts; and the education sector, which involves lesson planning, often done during the weekend.   

For more information see the Steunpunt Werk website.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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