More than 600 million people worldwide work excessively long hours -
and Britons are the worst offenders among rich nations.
An International Labour Organisation report on working trends shows
that more than a quarter of British workers put in more than 48 hours a
The study by the United Nations agency covered 50 countries worldwide.
"The good news is that progress has been made in regulating normal
working hours in developing and transition countries," said Jon C.
Messenger, co-author of the study.
"But overall the findings of this study are definitely worrying."
And progress towards a maximum 48-hour week was still uneven nearly 100 years after the standard
was agreed by members, the ILO report said.
It pointed to the growth of service industries, such as tourism and
transport, and the expanding informal economy, where workers are not under
contract, contributed to longer working hours.
Both elements are signs of increasing globalization, it said.
Topping the results of the study were Peruvians with more than half
(50.9 per cent) of them working more than 48 hours a week.
They are followed by South Koreans (49.5 per cent), Thais (46.7 per
cent) and Pakistanis (44.4 per cent).
In developed countries, where working hours are generally shorter, 25.7
per cent of British workers put in more than 48 hours a week followed by
Israelis (25.5 per cent), Australians (20.4 per cent), Swiss (19.2 per
cent) and U.S. workers (18.1 per cent).
The ILO maintains that shorter working hours benefit workers' health
and family lives, reduce accidents at the workplace and generally make
workers more productive.