Is France?s work-life balance really so good?

Is France?s work-life balance really so good?

Is France?s work-life balance really so good?

France has a reputation for a better work/life balance than many other European cities, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

Many would-be expats decide on France as their perfect emigration destination by taking into account the country’s reputation for a positive work/life balance. The French, according to expat legends, work to live rather than living to work. However, arrivals looking to find jobs far less gruelling than the one’s they’ve left in the home country may well be bitterly disappointed when they discover the truth about working versus holidays and leisure time!

This truth seems to have been dismissed in the latest InterNations survey, in which two-thirds of respondents were happy working longer hours and only 21 per cent felt they were unsatisfied with their work/life balance. At first glance this seems to dispel the myth, but comparing French working hours versus leisure time on a worldwide basis tells a different story in that France was ranked 35th out of 65 countries, leaving a lot to be desired. Not only that, but the country’s position has dropped every year since 2014.

Complaints by those taking part in the study included late starts to the office day and even later finishes, sometimes up to 7.30 at night, indicating English-speaking expat workers would rather start earlier and leave whilst it’s still light. It’s a good point, as expats with families need to leave them at school until they can pick them up or even hire someone to meet them, take them home and feed them.

Average hours worked per week in France total 40.9, with the much publicised 35-hour working week an unrealiseable dream in the real world. Factor in compulsory overtime, and a social or family life can become a distant memory. Even the much discussed full two month’s summer holiday whilst schools are shut doesn’t quite work like that, and not all French workers get to enjoy it. Of course, the flip side of the above is the French quality of life, seen in its magnificent cuisine, its glorious wines, its ancient buildings, its rural beauty and its culture. For many expats, nowhere’s perfect and it’s all worth while in the end.

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