Published: 21 Sep 2017
Updated: 30 Aug 2021
Category: Business Insights

How Hong Kong's Working Hours Stack Up In Asia


After a survey revealed Hong Kong employees have the longest working week out of 71 cities around the world. Hong Kong employees have clocked up 50.1 hours each week, the highest among 71 cities in a survey by Swiss Banking Group UBS. The survey examined 15 occupations and revealed that four of the top five busiest cities are in Asia – Hong Kong, Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangkok.

The 18 cities with the lowest working hours are all in Europe. The hours a Hong Kong employee typically works are 38 percent more than the global average of 36 hours and 23 minutes. People in Beijing work about 37.8 hours a week, slightly more than the global average. Taipei – ranked No 8 in the survey – has an average of 41.2 working hours.

In terms of paid leave, Hong Kong employees get 17 days of paid leave a year, more than five days less than the global average of 23 days. Shanghai employees enjoy the lowest paid leave with only 7 days annually, following Bangkok with 9 days and Beijing with 10 days, the survey showed.

Hong Kong is the world’s hardest working city, at 50 hours a week

The working class in Hong Kong cannot complain enough about the long working hours, mediocre pay and decades of unpayable housing mortgage and healthcare.

This is only an impression portrayed in local soap opera Brick Slaves (樓奴).

The study included data from 71 cities around the globe, where Hong Kong was ranked 6th on the list of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, a 10-place place jump from three years ago. Sky-rocketing property prices were the main driver for high living costs, with Hong Kong having the second highest household rent in the world, second only to New York City.

The top three most expensive cities to live in were New York City, Zurich and Geneva, when rent is included in living costs. Within Asia, Hong Kong is followed by Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei respectively.

No surprises in the ranking of working hours though, as Hong Kong emerged as the hardest working place on Earth, with employees putting in an average of 2,600 working hours a year, or 1000 more hours a year than Parisians, while receiving just 17 days of holidays in a year. On a weekly basis, Hong Kongers average over 50 hours per week, or four more hours of work daily when compared to employees in Paris, where staff works 35 hours per week in line with new government regulations. Employees in Shanghai must live with only seven days off, while Bangkok averages nine days of paid vacation but 16 days of legal holidays, giving a total holiday time of 25 days.

One important thing to note is that while Hong Kongers revere hard work, putting in more hours isn’t always a good thing. For a city that pulls out all the stops, plus being one of the world’s safest cities, Hong Kongers need to work smarter not harder.


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