It is a widespread misconception that peasants were doing forced labour from dusk till dawn throughout their whole life and that modern man has more free time. On top of all this, Hungarians work way above average in hours.
History magazine Múlt-Kor writes that people today work much more than peasants did centuries ago, both in the United States and in Europe.
Based on data published by the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans worked an average of 1780 hours in 2017, while Hungarians worked barely less, namely 1740 hours on average. Let us put this into perspective: an English peasant’s yearly average was 1620 hours.
Just like today, work on the lands depended very much on the seasons in the Middle Ages as well. Thanks to this, an average peasant had somewhere between 8 weeks and 6 months of free time each year.
Today, a Hungarian worker gets 20 days per year, to which some more are added that depend on their age, how many children they have and others.
On top of the days off that were dictated by the weather, the Church introduced rest days too, as they believed that rest makes people content and calm, thus more productive when they get back to work. A relaxed attitude can be seen in their approach towards lunchtime, and in many places, people took afternoon naps – the latter is still a custom in the Mediterranean countries, Múlt-Kor writes.
People during the Middle Ages did not follow a nine to five rigid schedule, simply because they had no means to measure time precisely.
Let us divert our attention to 21st century Hungary. Népszava wrote in December that in 2011, Hungarians worked an average of 39.4 hours each week, a number that has not declined since between 2012 and 2014, this average grew to 39.8 hours, due to the fact that over time has been raised to 250 hours from 200. This number is 400 since January 2019.
Based on data published by Eurostat, in 2016, the average European worked 40.3 hours a week, while a Hungarian worked 40.5 hours.
It is expected that because of the higher overtime hours, the 40.5-hour average will grow significantly.
Albeit Hungarians have to work more, in the Czech Republic, working hours per week are longer with 24 minutes, while in Poland with 48 minutes. At the same time, the average work time in Germany is 35 hours.