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Hong Kong employees work 48.8 hours per week
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21:49, October 17, 2008

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Hong Kong full-time employees work an average of 48.8 hours every week, 22 percent more than the work time recommended by the International Labor Organization (ILO) , a survey released on Friday has found.

The survey, commissioned by non-profit organization Community Business by random phone interviews in July with 1,011 full-time employees, also found that one third of the respondents said they would consider leaving their current job for a better work-life balance.

"This finding should be a major concern for Hong Kong employers and is the greatest business case for the need for companies to address work-life balance in their organizations," said Shalini Mahtani, chief executive officer of Community Business.

The survey found that Hong Kong full-time employees aged 15 and above work less time than the 2007 average of 49.2 hours per week and the 2006 average of 51.3 hours, but still higher than ILO's recommendation of no more than 40 hours with occasional paid overtime of up to 12 hours per week.

Similar to previous years, over 60 percent of the employees said they were suffering from a prolonged fatigue and extreme tiredness due to poor work-life balance.

The average amount of time spent on personal activities per week was 10.4 hours in 2008, compared with 12 hours in 2007.

Employees rate the degree to which they have achieved their ideal work-life balance 5.7 out of 10 in 2007, representing a slight improvement from last year's 5.6.

"All these changes seem to indicate that although actual work- life balance is slightly worse, employees in Hong Kong are flexible and will adjust their expectations in accordance with the market," said Robert Chung, director of the Public Opinion Programof the University of Hong Kong, who conducted the survey.

"Hong Kong employees remain as pragmatic as ever," said Mahtani.

When asked to pick the biggest challenge to their work-life balance, 18 percent of the respondents chose long work hours, followed by financial well-being and leaders' attitude, which were respectively chose by 14.9 percent and 13.3 percent.

Financial well-being came as the top challenge last year.

The employees also said five-day work week and more paid annual leave would most help them achieve better work life balance.

Also, 20.5 percent said they would consider leaving Hong Kong for better work-life balance, compared with 26.9 percent last year.


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