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Three-day work week? Country by country breakdown of how much we work

Netherlands - Average work hours per week: 29. Average annual wages: $47,000 <span class=meta>(Photo/WikiMedia Commons)</span>
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Do you wish your weekend stretched past Saturday and Sunday? The richest man in the world thinks it should.

Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican telecom mogul worth nearly $80 billion, laid out his three-day workweek argument at a recent business conference. Slim believes a shorter workweek would lead to more creativity and a healthier, longer life. But here's the catch: In exchange for a four-day weekend, the average worker should put in an 11-hour workday, and work until they are at least 70 years old.

Slim's argument goes against the old standard in the United States: five-day work weeks and eight hours a day until retirement at age 65. So would you rather work a three-day work week at 11 hours a day? Or a five-day work week at eight hours a day?

Here's a look at the shortest workweeks around the world, according to a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

Netherlands
Average work hours per week: 29
Average annual wages: $47,000
The Netherlands have a standard four-day work week. There are even laws in place that give workers the right to reduce their hours to a part-time schedule, while keeping their job, hourly pay, health care and benefits.

Denmark
Average work hours per week: 33
Average annual wages: $46,000
Danish workers also have a right to at least five weeks of paid vacation each year.

Norway
Average work hours per week: 33
Average annual wages: $44,000
Norway's maternity leave can extend to 43 weeks at full pay, or 53 weeks at reduced pay.

Ireland
Average work hours per week: 34
Average annual wages: $51,000
A drop in full-time farming jobs has caused Ireland's work week average to plummet over the last 30 years.

Germany
Average work hours per week: 35
Average annual wages: $40,000
Nearly one in four German workers are part-time.

Switzerland
Average work hours per week: 35
Average annual wages: $50,000
Swiss workers earn nearly the same as the average American worker, but work 155 hours less each year.

Belgium
Average work hours per week: 35
Average annual wages: $44,000
The Belgium Government created "career breaks". Every Belgium worker is entitled to a one-year paid break during their working lifetime.

Sweden
Average work hours per week: 36
Average annual wages: $38,000
Collective bargaining has pushed for a gradually shorter work week over time, as well as flexible working hours and telecommuting.

Australia
Average work hours per week: 36
Average annual wages: $45,000
The Australian government passed laws giving workers a right to public holidays, severance pay and leave under a variety of scenarios, including community service work.

Italy
Average work hours per week: 36
Average annual wages: $34,000
Overtime is limited to 8 hours. Employers can face fines if workers exceed that amount.

United States
Average work hours per week: 38
Average annual wages: $55,000
Four out of five employees work at least 35 hours a week, and the U.S. is the only developed nation that does not guarantee workers a vacation.

Would you rather work longer hours and less days, or more days and less hours? Let us know in the comments below.

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