Working 9 to 5?

By Jon Boys, Labour Market Economist, CIPD. 

Recently I have heard a few references to the death of the 9 to 5 working arrangement. But how many people even do a 9 to 5? In this blog I show that most people do not work a typical 9 to 5. Defining the 9 to 5 as to be anyone who works full-time, Monday to Friday, in the daytime. Various sources led me to this definition of which Dolly Parton was prime.

First things first. Over a quarter (26.5%) of people regularly work at the weekend.



Though Dolly was singing about the 9 to 5 as a bad thing, it seems pretty good when compared to the alternatives. These include long hours, and unsocial hours. When looking at hours worked in the UK it appears Dolly had it pretty good. Most people work more than a standard 9 to 5. A significant proportion work much less. 28.4% of people work part-time.

9-5 encompasses the daylight hours. 27.1% of people regularly work in the evenings or at night.

If we take these factors together, we can define a 9 to 5 worker as someone who:

  • Works full-time
  • In the day
  • Monday to Friday

Using this we can look at who works 9-5 and who doesn’t. 60.9% of workers do not work a typical 9-5 – a clear majority.

Who are these workers?

These workers tend to be younger and older (with 9 to 5 being more middle aged). They are also much more likely to be female.

So, when we loosely use the term 9-5 to describe work, we are only describing work for some people. These people are more likely to be men in their prime working years. Alternative ways of working are not alternative at all. They are the majority.


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