Home Business News Data says these are the hardest working industries in the UK

Data says these are the hardest working industries in the UK

by LLB staff reporter
22nd Oct 20 12:30 pm

New research from MerchantMachine reveals the industries and cities in the UK that work the most hours per week. 

  • Construction, Transport and Storage, Water and waste management all came in top with a median hourly working week of 40 hours
  • The longest working week was seen in the Agriculture industry with some employees working up to 56.1 hours per week
  • Women worked fewer hours than men across the board but when they did work similar hours, their pay differed by just over £20,000 per year

A new study by Merchant Machine has analysed the UK’s working hours to declare which industries and cities put in the most hours per week. Using ONS ASHE data, the UK payments specialist has also looked into pay to highlight whether the hours we put in is reflected in our pay.

The top 10 hardest-working industries 

The Construction industry was named the hardest working industry in the UK with the average worker clocking a total of 40 hours per week. Upper limits for this industry were also high with some working up to 49 hours. 

The fourth hardest working industry, Agriculture, had the highest upper-limit of hours worked of all industries with some employees clocking up to 53.6 hours per week. That is 13.6 hours more per week than the average full-time week. 

Industry Median hours worked Upper-limit hours worked
1 Construction 40.0 49.0
2 Transport & storage 39.9 52.3
3 Water & waste management 39.8 50.4
4 Agriculture 39.2 53.6
5 Manufacturing 39.0 46.9
6 Mining & quarrying 38.6 48.0
7 Information & comms 37.5 40.2
8 Science & technology 37.4 45.0
8 Admin & support 37.4 44.3
8 Wholesale/ retail trade & repair 37.4 40.0

On the other side of the spectrum, those who fell into the household employers industry, had the shortest median week worked with the median value being just 16 hours. But how many hours should we be working per week? 

Claire Williams, director of people and services at CIPHR, a UK-based HR company added, “The pace of working life – which naturally varies from day to day, and week to week – also plays a significant role in determining if we feel overworked and if our work-life balance is right.

“In theory, your contracted hours should represent the amount of time that your employer has deemed necessary to complete your job, therefore, ideally you wouldn’t be working significantly longer than those hours, and certainly not on a regular basis.”

Equal industries? Hours and pay per gender

Women worked less hours per week than men across the board – likely due to commitments outside of the workplace – but what happened when men and women did work similar hours? 

The finance and insurance industry showed the biggest discrepancies between men and womens pay. The median hours worked per year came in at 1,820 per year (35 per week) for both genders in the industry and yet men earned just over £20,000 more per year than women. On an hourly basis, this means that women in the finance and insurance industry could be earning around £8.41 less per hour than industry males.

City divide: the cities that worked the most  

The hours worked in each city ranged from 37.4h per week (Milton Keynes) down to 35h per week (Edinburgh, Southampton, Glasgow and Liverpool). Over a year, this means workers in Milton Keynes are working on average 125 hours more per week than employees in the latter cities. 

London came in low in the list with the median hours worked per week being 36.8 hours per week– considerably low for the city that is often considered to be the employment hub of the UK.

  1. Milton Keynes – 37.4 hours per week
  2. Stoke-on-Trent– 37.4hours per week
  3. Wakefield– 37.1 hours per week
  4. Birmingham– 37 hours per week
  5. Leeds– 37 hours per week
  6. Newcastle upon Tyne– 37 hours per week
  7. Wolverhampton– 37 hours per week
  8. Sunderland– 37 hours per week
  9. Hull– 37 hours per week
  10. Walsall– 37 hours per week

Ian Wright at MerchantMachine said, “How much people get paid is covered and spoken about widely but hours worked is less common. We wanted to shed light on just how much the UK is really working per week and so undertook this research into the total hours worked (basic hours + paid overtime hours). This reveals that though many of the median hours worked are within the normal range, some of the upper-limits show that much of the UK may be overworking.”


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