Increasing work hours doesn’t affect productivity

Working longer hours does not lead to increased efficiency and productivity, according to a study by the Directorate-General for Administration and Public Employment (DGAEP).

The government has previously hinted at increasing working hours for civil servants as a way to improve productivity and reducing overtime expenses.

But the study analyses the average working hours within the European Union and concludes that there isn’t a consistent correlation between the number of hours worked and productivity.

The number of working hours “is only one variable in all the productivity process”, says the report, and only a healthy articulation between qualifications, working hours, motivation and technology can improve productivity.

The report also stresses that while Portuguese civil servants have the shortest weekly working time of 35 hours a week (the same as France), they have around half the time in holidays as other countries.

The report concludes by mentioning several studies from the past 20 years, which argue that “as you increase the working hours, during the day productivity gradually becomes lower”.

The results of the sixth evaluation of Portugal’s bailout programme by the IMF led to a suggestion that the government should increase working time for civil servants, stepping from the current weekly 35 hours to the 40 hours practiced in the private sector or the European average of 37.5 hours.