Is the average work week 40 hours or 35 hours?

The answer given may answer the actual question, but my question is, what is the required work week for a salaried office worker? Isn’t this where the expression “nine to five” (35 hours per week) comes from?

Certainly salaried employees may actually actually average well over 40 hours per week, they’re exempt from overtime pay, but my experience is with a nine to five or eight to four work day (but you can work to midnight if you feel like it).

The link to the Mailbag item is:

It’s helpful to others if you provide the link in a new topic, so that we don’t get people commenting without having read the article.

I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking, Proman, but 9 to 5 is 8 hours, times five days, is 40 hours per week. Does that help?

Maybe proman was assuming an hour for lunch?

Anyway, for anecdotal evidence, the company I work for schedules full-time hourly employees 8 1/2 hours per day, minus a 1/2 hour unpaid lunch gives 8 hours of pay (times 5 equals 40 hours) (of course, that’s not 8 hours of work a day, as we get 2 paid 15 minute breaks) and salaried employees are expected to work from their scheduled start time until they get all their paperwork, etc. for the day done, and at least 8 hours (or make up the difference on another day of the same week) for a minimum of 40 hours per week. But, of course, they can take 2-hour lunches and count 1 1/2 hours of that time as “working”.

9 to 5 is 40 hours a week. If a lunch hour is unpaid, it’s 35 hours a week. And, I’ve seen an unpaid half-hour lunch which makes the work week 37 1/2 hours a week.

What’s ‘normal’? Don’t know.


Sorry for leaving out the link. Thanks for the info.

The question “I worked 9 to 5, and enjoyed the benefits of the 35-hour work week” and answer “Where’d you find this cushy 9-to-5 job” clearly indicate that 9 to 5 is 35 hours.

If 9 to 5 is so unusual, why is the expression so prevalent?

Finally, paid or unpaid lunch is not applicable to salaried employees. You may choose to look at 9 to 5 either as a 7 hour work day with an unpaid lunch hour or an 8 hour work day with a paid lunch hour, the results are the same.

My personal experience from being on salary and wages is I have never while being on salary worked only 8 hours day nor 40 hours a week.

I don’t see any advantage to working salary.

Well, I have never actually worked only 40 hours per week on a salaried job either. I’m currently putting in about 12 hours per day Monday through Friday with a 20 minute pizza break if I’m lucky (not today, 0700 to 2015 with no “lunch” break) with an 8 hour Saturday and 5 hour Sunday.

But whenever I have started a new job, I have always been told the “official” hours, whether 8 to 4 or 9 to 5. This has always turned out to be bullshit, but I was just wondering what the average salaried office worker is told. The statistics in the original answer were clearly for hourly people.

I guess not all questions have answers.

I’ve wondered about the “9 to 5” expression, myself. I suspect that it might be the times that many retail establishments were open 40 years ago. It certainly has nothing to do with salaried hours.

My experience with “work times” has been:
7:00 to 3:30 with 1/2 hour lunch (hourly labor)
7:00 to 5:30 with 1/2 hour lunch (hourly labor)
8:00 to 4:45 with 3/4 hour lunch (salary)
8:30 to 5:00 with 1/2 hour lunch (salary).

All of the salary jobs required more actual time than the nominal 40 hours per week.

I have never known anyone with a job that started at 9:00 a.m. The closest I can think of was my stint in retail management when the store (and mall) opened at 10:00 a.m. and I had to be there by 9:30 to prep the cash drawers and get the store opened–but then I had to stay until at least 6:00. (I was actully working 70-90 hour weeks at that time.) I have noticed that malls tend to open earlier than 10:00 nowadays.



I appreciate your reply. Personally I have had many jobs over the last 30 years, some hourly and most salaried. Hourly has always been 40 hours while salaried has always been 35 hours.

Also, for example, our insuance agent closes at 1630. And there sure isn’t any answer at 0800 as there would have to be if his staff worked 40 hours even with a 30 minute lunch. The same applies to our lawyers.