Upon finishing my masters degree I moved to Spain for personal reasons. I was lucky to find a job very fast, the workplace is great and coworkers too. However I noticed some cultural differences at working schedules.

Where I come from, "normal" office working hours are considered 7-3, 8-4 or 9-5. Lunch break is normally included in these 8 hours and the usual contract is 40 hours per week.

Here in Spain, contract is also 40h per week but effectively counting lunch it is 45 hours, and usually even more because I noticed that many workers like to stay longer even if they are not being paid overtime.

Due to this change, I noticed that bars are here open much longer, people eat dinner between 9 and 11 PM, they don't go out normally before 1-2 AM and they enter work later (most of people in my company enters around 9-11 AM and stay 10 hours at work).

I don't want to generalize based on my experience and experience of few people that I talked to here. However, the cultural lifestyle shift I see here shows me that this is the "normal" here. In fact, I've been contacting with some recruiters offering me various jobs in this area, and all of them had more or less the same working hours - always such that you had to stay at least 9 hours per day at work, even though the contract always says 40h.

I really like my workplace and enjoy my work. I work in software development and staying 10 hours per day at work makes me less productive in the long term. It's not healthy to stay sitting for such a long time and the focus can't stay fresh so sometimes in the late afternoon it takes me more brainpower to figure out stuff.

Because of this, I am considering moving to another country. I am currently interested in Austria and Germany, but experience from any EU country is welcome! What I want to know is what are "normal" working hours in your country/city? What is "normal" working hours for you? I am not asking what says on your contract, but when do you actually arrive and when do you leave the office?

  • 5
    Lunch is never counted as work hours in many countries. That means you should get up from your desk and eat lunch elsewhere not work through lunch.
    – HLGEM
    May 9, 2018 at 19:41
  • 1
    why not go to the gym or something during the day? i don't see much point in leaving work early if everyone you might know is also at work
    – bharal
    May 9, 2018 at 21:10
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    I can't answer now it's been closed, but would like to give my point of view as an immigrant to Spain. Firstly, the 40h per week not including lunch is standard in all European countries I've worked in. Makes sense to me, as if you're not working then you don't get paid, but I wouldn't mind your system! :-) It obviously depends on the company, but I've found companies to be remarkably flexible in terms of working hours. A lot of people will take a mid-morning break to stop and eat a sandwich in a café, and lunch breaks can easily go on for longer than an hour, but as long as the work gets ...
    – Aaron F
    May 18, 2018 at 21:16
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    ... done then no one minds. Some people take shorter lunch breaks and bank up the time so they can leave early on a Friday afternoon. Some companies have shorter working days during the hotter summer months. (Although, there are generally two types of company here: Spanish companies and international companies, and the latter are less lax). To answer your question, I get in around 0930h and leave anywhere between 16h and 19h depending on the day, my workload, and whether I'm in the zone or not. If I'm working from home then I can easily work until dinner time without realising.
    – Aaron F
    May 18, 2018 at 21:24
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    In a previous job I would break my day up with a siesta after lunch, working 9h-13h, then 16h-20h. To conclude: your experience will vary wildly depending on the company, more than the country. Choose both on whether you think they'll be a good fit for you culturally. Contracts can always be negotiated: if you want to work fewer hours then get that written into your contract and work fewer hours. If you like Spain, like your current job, but want to change some things then speak to your boss. It could help to start applying for other jobs, to find out what's possible with another company.
    – Aaron F
    May 18, 2018 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


I am from Austria and work in software development. This answer considers private companies, since government business might be different. Working hours per week (full time) are either 38,5h or 40h (depending on the company and contract).

After 6 hours you are required to take a break - at least 30min, which is not considered work time. The maximum allowed working hours per day are 12h* 10, or in some special cases 12h.

*Since September 2018, the law changed to allow 12h days (max. 60h/week) and max. 48h/week average over a 17 weeks period.

It is also common to work a little longer from Monday to Thursday, but leave earlier on Friday (for example at 13:00).

Most companies I worked for had flexible working schedules ("Gleitzeit"), which means you dont have to start at a specific time, but are required to be there during core hours ("Kernzeit").

For example you could start between 6-9AM and leave between 3-8pm. From my experience software development in general is a bit more flexibel regarding working hours. At my current company I can manage my time nearly free, but for meetings/stand ups etc.

An example of a weekly work schedule could look like this:

  • Monday - Thursday: 08:00 - 17:00 (8,5h work/day netto)
  • Friday: 08:00 - 12:30 (4,5h day)
  • Thank you! This is the information I was hoping to get. This type of schedule is already an improvement of 5h/week from my current situation.
    – user86893
    May 10, 2018 at 6:52
  • down voter: care to explain, so I can improve the answer? May 10, 2018 at 12:59
  • 1
    Have an upvote, just to compensate for the dude who downvoted out of... who knows what childish feeling?
    – Rares Dima
    May 10, 2018 at 23:17

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