One in five workers around the world or more than 600 million people are working "excessively" long hours, according to a new United Nations study.
The study by the International Labour organisation (ILO), which points out the positive consequences of shorter hours, estimates that 22 per cent of the global workforce is still working more than 48 hours a week just to make both ends meet.
The study, conducted in more than 50 countries, for the first time explores the policies in developing and transition countries.
"The good news is that progress has been made in regulating normal working hours in developing and transition countries, but overall the findings of this study are definitely worrying, especially the prevalence of excessively long hours," said Jon C Messenger, Senior Research Officer for the ILO's Conditions of Work and Employment Programme and a co-author of the study.
In the period from 2004 to 2005, Peru topped the list with just over half of its workers (50.9 per cent) putting in long working hours -- defined as more than 48 hours per week.
Following close behind was South Korea with 49.5 per cent, Thailand at 46.7 per cent and Pakistan at 44.4 per cent.
Among developed countries, where working hours are typically shorter, the UK stood at 25.7 per cent, Israel at 25.5 per cent, Australia at 20.4 per cent, Switzerland at 19.2 per cent, and the United States at 18.1 per cent.