To be lazy, to be lazy, to be lazy are adjectives and expressions that express the fact of not having the desire nor the energy to accomplish something. One prefers to do nothing or to rest rather than to make an effort.
So, is this true? Are the French lazy and work less?
We'll see about that right away!
Lazy. This is one of the adjectives that comes up most often when a foreigner is asked what he thinks the French are like. More precisely, they think they are lazy at work.
But it's not only foreigners who think that, even the President of the French Republic thinks so too.
Is it true? As they say, there is no smoke without fire.
There are already four reasons why we think that the French work less:
Paid leave in France:
The first reason is the large number of paid vacations to which a French employee is entitled.
Paid vacations are days granted to the employee that he can use to go on vacation while being paid. His salary, the money he receives each month will remain the same.
A French employee is entitled to 5 weeks of paid vacation per year, which corresponds to 30 days. The European average of paid vacations per year is 22 days and 9 days in the United States.
The strike in France:
The second reason why the French are lazy is the right to strike.
In France, if employees have professional demands, i.e. if they want to improve their working conditions, they have the right to strike. Be careful, going on strike does not mean that you are on vacation. A strike usually leads to a demonstration, usually in the street or in front of the company in question. A French employee who goes on strike is not paid by his employer. This is logical, because he is not at his place of work.
The French health care system:
The third reason is the French health system.
It is a very generous health system so some people can take advantage of it to work a little less. It's very easy to get a sick leave in France to not work for a few days. In 2019, one out of two French employees was on sick leave at least once. So, of course in the vast majority, these people are really sick and need these days off to get better. But, there is a small minority who take advantage of it a little to take it easy.
The visions of the French on work:
The fourth reason is the French people's view of work.
Work is not the priority of the majority of French people. We don't want to kill ourselves at work and put our health at risk because of work. Work is important and necessary, but it doesn't sum up our lives. The French like to give time to their family, to their leisure and to their hobbies. Moreover, one of the priorities of the French at work is their well-being. Well-being at work is fundamental for them to flourish and to be more productive.
If we look at the number of annual working hours for French employees again, they are not in a good position. In 2020, the French were at 1320 hours worked per year, which ranks France at 37ᵉ out of 38 OECD countries. These numbers clearly prove that the French are a bit lazy anyway.
But, there is a big BUT. If we look at the number of working hours per week of the French, we are at 36 and a half hours of work per week. This figure is in the European average, we even work more hours per week than our German or Danish friends.
Moreover, the productivity of the French is excellent, especially if we compare it to the number of hours worked. The French are among the most efficient workers in the world, they are in the 3ᵉ place of the most productive workers.
So, are the French lazy? Hmmm yes and no.
It's not a simple question like that.
Moreover, it's hard to put everyone in the same bag, that is to say not to make any difference between people. We have talked a lot about employees, but there are also self-employed people, craftsmen, students, people with a different status who do not have the same rhythm of life and work as employees.
It is true that in France, there are many advantages, especially for employees, which make their working and living conditions more pleasant. However, French people still work and remain very productive.
I'll see you soon for new adventures in French of course! 🇫🇷