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December 2006
Vol. 7, no. 12

Perspectives on Labour and Income

Work hours instability
Andrew Heisz and Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté

  • Slightly less than half of employees worked roughly the same hours each year between 1997 and 2001. About one in three worked a standard, full-year full-time schedule in every year and 15% worked a shorter year.
  • While it was common to work longer hours in a given year, it was rare to do so year after year. One in five workers worked longer hours in at least one year between 1997 and 2001, but less than 1% did so in every year.
  • Typically, annual work hours varied by about five full-time work weeks. However, work hours variability was highly polarized with 1 in 5 employees having virtually none and 1 in 4 having variability exceeding eight weeks per year.
  • Work hours instability was higher among employees in small firms, those with no pension plan, and those not covered by a collective agreement.

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The authors are with the Business and Labour Market Analysis Division. Andrew Heisz can be reached at 613-951-3748, and Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté at 613-951-0803 or both at

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