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Guide to Hours Worked

Released: 14 November 2012 Download PDF


Estimates of weekly hours of work, including paid and unpaid hours, for the UK are measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

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Estimates of weekly hours of work, including paid and unpaid hours, for the UK are measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Actual hours worke d statistics measure how many hours were actually worked. These statistics are affected directly by changes in the number of people in employment and in the number of hours that people work. The figures are seasonally adjusted to take account of calendar-related absences from work during the reference period such as public holidays and time off work for school holidays. The figures are also affected by other absences from work such as those due to sickness.

Average hours worked measure the average number of hours worked per week for all workers, for full-time workers, for part-time workers and for workers in second jobs.

Usual hours worked measure how many hours people usually work per week. Compared with actual hours worked, they are not affected by absences and so can provide a better measure of normal working patterns. Estimates of hours worked are published each month in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin. When conducting analysis of hours, there are three main elements to consider:

  • whether to use usual or actual hours worked

  • whether to include paid and unpaid overtime

  • whether to include hours worked in further jobs

Estimates of total actual hours worked for the UK are available from 1971. Other hours worked estimates are available from 1992. Estimates are available by sex and also for former Government Office Regions (GORs). Regional estimates of hours worked are measured by the Annual Population Survey (APS). Estimates of paid hours worked are measured by the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).

Background notes

  1. Enquiries relating to labour market statistics should be directed to Nick Palmer, Labour Market Division, Office for National Statistics.

    Phone +44 (0)1633 455839


  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

Supporting information

Further information

Interpreting Labour Market Statistics - The purpose of this article is to help users of labour market statistics interpret the statistics and highlight some common misunderstandings.
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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