The United States of America—Home of the Free, Brave, and Overworked

According to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, specifically Articles 23 and 24, all members of society has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to join trade unions, and the right to rest and leisure, “including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.” Hate to break it to the UN, but if this declaration is upheld, then amongst the most severe violators would be China, Uganda, and…the United States?

Recently, researchers, authors, and government officials alike have found that the United States might be the most overworked, industrialized nation in the world. The US has consistently maintained longer work hours, later retirement, and less vacation time while other nations have passed/are passing legislation that cut hours in order to preserve a life outside of work.

Some indicators that support these researchers’ theories include: rising number of children placed in afterschool programs/day cares while their parents are still at work; road rage before and after work hours; and even workplace shootings.

Other countries are attempting to remedy the overworked work week. In Sweden, the city of Gothenburg is experimenting with 6 hour work days. They argue, it will increase productivity. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”), the countries with the shortest work days are the most productive and vice versa.

The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, France, and Denmark all clock in the lowest hours but are amongst the top ten of most productive companies in the OECD. The lowest performing countries (Greece, Poland, and Hungary) maintain the longest hours.