Insee FocusWorking time and working at home during the lockdown: significant differences depending on occupation

Yves Jauneau, Joëlle Vidalenc (INSEE)

The lockdown of the population due to the Covid-19 pandemic implemented in France from mid-March to mid-May 2020 resulted in a sharp drop of economic activity in France, mainly due to the working time of employed persons. During this period, the average number of hours worked each week per employed person fell by 34% compared to last year.

Five situations emerged during the lockdown. The number of worked hours fell less for occupations mobilized because of the sanitary crisis and the lockdown (9% of jobs, mainly in health and trade activities) and for those who intensively teleworked (17% of jobs, mainly managers or higher intellectual professionals).

In other occupations, particularly in administrative offices, teleworking strongly increased, limiting the drop in working hours (26% of jobs).

On the other hand, the number of worked hours per week collapsed for occupations where the implementation of teleworking was more difficult (child care workers, heavy truck drivers, etc., 26% of jobs) or where activity stopped abruptly with the lockdown (salespeople, waiters, etc., 19% of jobs).

Insee Focus
No 207
Paru le : Paru le 14/10/2020
Yves Jauneau, Joëlle Vidalenc (INSEE)
Insee Focus  No 207 - October 2020

During lockdown, the number of hours worked by employed people fell

During the lockdown period from mid-March to mid-May 2020 (sources), each week, 45% of people who were employed according to the definition of the International Labour Office (ILO) did not work for some or all of the week, regardless the reason (holiday, sickness, short-time working or technical unemployment, etc., Figure 1a). This is three times more than during the same period in 2019. This sharp rise is explained by the recourse to short-time working or technical unemployment: on average, during lockdown, nearly a quarter of employed people stated that they had not worked for some or all of the week for this reason, whilst this proportion was almost zero a year earlier (Figure 1b). The proportion of people who stated that they had not worked because they were on sick leave also increased, but to a far lesser extent (+2 points to 6%).

Of people who did not work for some or all of the week, the vast majority did not work at all that week. As a result, on average, each week during lockdown, 37% of employed people did not work during the week at all compared to 11% during the same period in 2019.

Figure 1a – Employment situation according to the number of hours actually worked

Figure 1a – Employment situation according to the number of hours actually worked - Reading note: during an average week in lockdown, among the employed people according the ILO definition, 45% did not work some or all of the week, of which 37% did not work at all.
Equivalent period in 2019 (in %) Lockdown in 2020 (in %) Change between 2019 and 2020 (in points)
Worked the entire week 84.1 55.0 -29.1
Did not work some or all of the week 15.9 45.0 29.1
Did not work some of the week 4.7 8.4 3.7
Did not work during all of the week 11.2 36.6 25.4
Total 100.0 100.0 ///
  • /// No result due to the nature of things.
  • Notes: the lockdown period corresponds to the period from 16 March to 10 May 2020. The equivalent period in 2019 is the period from 18 March to 12 May 2019.
  • Reading note: during an average week in lockdown, among the employed people according the ILO definition, 45% did not work some or all of the week, of which 37% did not work at all.
  • Coverage: France excluding Mayotte, employed persons living in private household.
  • Source: Insee, Labour Force Surveys 2019 and 2020.

Figure 1a – Employment situation according to the number of hours actually worked

  • Notes: the lockdown period corresponds to the period from 16 March to 10 May 2020. The equivalent period in 2019 is the period from 18 March to 12 May 2019.
  • Reading note: during an average week in lockdown, among the employed people according the ILO definition, 45% did not work some or all of the week, of which 37% did not work at all.
  • Coverage: France excluding Mayotte, employed persons living in private household.
  • Source: Insee, Labour Force Surveys 2019 and 2020.

Employed people worked on average 21 hours per week during lockdown compared to 32 hours during the same period in 2019, a 34% fall (Figure 2a). Taking the fall in employment into account, the volume of hours worked fell by around 35%. For employed people, the reduction in the number of hours worked is primarily explained by the large proportion of people not having worked for some or all of the week. This is because the number of hours worked by people having worked for the entire week fell only slightly: these people worked 35 hours on average during lockdown compared to 37 hours during the same period in 2019, a 4% reduction.

The reduction in the number of hours worked is more marked among clerical, sales and services employees or industrial and blue-collar workers and those in the accommodation and food service activities

The reduction in the volume of hours worked has been more pronounced in sectors where activity has been severely affected by lockdown. Thus, on average, during lockdown, the number of hours actually worked per week fell by 80% in the accommodation and food service activities, by 64% in the arts, entertainment and recreational activities and by 52% in construction and other services (hairdressing, beauty care, other personal service activities, etc.) compared to the same period a year earlier (Figure 2d). In agriculture, on the other hand, the number of hours worked remained at a level fairly comparable to 2019 (–5%).

Moreover, the fall is more marked for clerical, sales and services employees (–41%), industrial and blue-collar workers (–48%) or craftspeople, shopkeepers and company managers (–48%), while being more limited for managers and higher intellectual professionals (–17%, Figure 2e).

On average, the number of hours worked fell by the same amount for women and men (Figure 2b). Conversely, it fell more for young people, particularly because they are more often clerical, sales and services employees or industrial and blue-collar workers, or in sectors that were shut down (Figure 2c). In the absence of usual child care arrangements during lockdown, the activity of parents with young children declined further. As a result, for couples with children, and more so for single adults with children, the number of hours worked fell more when the youngest child was under three. For couples, the reduction was 38% if they had at least one child under 3 compared to 33% otherwise; for single adults with children, the reduction was 60% if they had at least one child under 3 compared to 36% otherwise.

Figure 2a – Number of hours actually worked on average per week, by employment situation

Figure 2a – Number of hours actually worked on average per week, by employment situation - Reading note: in 2020, on average each week during lockdown, employed people worked on average 21.0 hours per week.
Equivalent period in 2019 (number of hours) Lockdown in 2020 (number of hours) Change between 2019 and 2020 (in %)
Worked the entire week 36.6 35.0 -4.2
Did not work some or all of the week 7.4 3.7 -49.8
Total 31.9 21.0 -34.4
  • Notes: the lockdown period corresponds to the period from 16 March to 10 May 2020. The equivalent period in 2019 is the period from 18 March to 12 May 2019.
  • Reading note: in 2020, on average each week during lockdown, employed people worked on average 21.0 hours per week.
  • Coverage: France excluding Mayotte, employed persons living in private household.
  • Source: Insee, Labour Force Surveys 2019 and 2020.

Figure 2a – Number of hours actually worked on average per week, by employment situation

  • Notes: the lockdown period corresponds to the period from 16 March to 10 May 2020. The equivalent period in 2019 is the period from 18 March to 12 May 2019.
  • Reading note: in 2020, on average each week during lockdown, employed people worked on average 21.0 hours per week.
  • Coverage: France excluding Mayotte, employed persons living in private household.
  • Source: Insee, Labour Force Surveys 2019 and 2020.

The number of people working from home soared, particularly among managers and higher intellectual professionals

During lockdown, of people who worked at least one hour during the week, nearly one in two (47%) worked at home during the last four weeks, twice as many as in 2019 (Figure 3a). In addition, the intensity of working from home increased: during lockdown, 80% of people having worked at home did so for at least half their working hours; in 2019, 30% of people were in this case.

However, the rise in working from home was not spread equally across all occupations and economic activities. For example, during lockdown, for employed people, working from home was very widespread among managers and higher intellectual professionals (81%) and, to a lesser extent, among craftspeople, shopkeepers and company managers (60%), or those in education (81%) and business services (71%, Figure 3c). Conversely, a very small proportion of industrial and blue-collar workers (4%) or unskilled workers (18%) who worked during lockdown did so from home (Figure 3d).

Overall, working from home increased among managers and higher intellectual professionals and the highly educated for whom it was already more developed before lockdown. However, skilled workers are the exception: 38% of them worked from home during lockdown compared to just 5% during the same period in 2019. Finally, all other things being equal, working from home was more common in the Paris region during lockdown, contrary to what was observed in 2019.

Figure 3a – Working from home*, by sex

Figure 3a – Working from home*, by sex - Reading note: in 2020, on average each week during lockdown, 47% of people in employment as defined by the ILO and having worked at least one hour during the week worked at least once at home over the previous four weeks.
Equivalent period in 2019 (in %) Lockdown in 2020 (in %) Change between 2019 and 2020 (in points)
Women 22.7 51.5 28.9
Men 22.4 43.2 20.8
Total 22.5 47.2 24.7
  • * At least once over the last four weeks, whether or not it is their usual place of work, whether or not as part of teleworking.
  • Notes: the lockdown period corresponds to the period from 16 March to 10 May 2020. The equivalent period in 2019 is the period from 18 March to 12 May 2019.
  • Reading note: in 2020, on average each week during lockdown, 47% of people in employment as defined by the ILO and having worked at least one hour during the week worked at least once at home over the previous four weeks.
  • Coverage: France excluding Mayotte, household population, people having worked at least one hour during the week.
  • Source: Insee, Labour Force Surveys 2019 and 2020.

Figure 3a – Working from home*, by sex

  • * At least once over the last four weeks, whether or not it is their usual place of work, whether or not as part of teleworking.
  • Notes: the lockdown period corresponds to the period from 16 March to 10 May 2020. The equivalent period in 2019 is the period from 18 March to 12 May 2019.
  • Reading note: in 2020, on average each week during lockdown, 47% of people in employment as defined by the ILO and having worked at least one hour during the week worked at least once at home over the previous four weeks.
  • Coverage: France excluding Mayotte, household population, people having worked at least one hour during the week.
  • Source: Insee, Labour Force Surveys 2019 and 2020.

The number of hours worked fell least among occupations whose activity was called upon or those in which people were already working from home

Having worked or not during the week, the reasons for not working (partial unemployment, illness...), the number of hours worked or the frequency of working from home during lockdown and during the same period in 2019 reveal five distinct groups of occupations (Figure 4).

A quarter of employed people are in occupations where the reduction in the number of hours worked was limited. On the one hand, for some occupations that were on the front line as a result of the health crisis (nurses, caregivers, doctors, etc.) or that ensured the continuity of certain activities (farm workers, non-specialised stores sellers, police officers, etc.), workers remained "still working on site". They represent about 9% of total employment. On average, the number of hours worked in these occupations only fell by 6% compared to the previous year. Moreover, among those who worked for the entire week, the proportion of those who worked 40 hours or more was higher than in 2019 (35% compared to 28%). Working from home, which was not particularly widespread for these occupations, did not increase much during lockdown. These are jobs most often filled by women (60% compared to 48% of jobs on average). Managers and higher intellectual professionals are under-represented here (9% compared to 21% overall).

On the other hand, for some occupations (engineers, teachers, senior managers or civil service managers, for example) the drop in the number of hours worked was limited thanks to "widespread working from home". For these occupations, the number of hours worked fell by only 12% and 86% of people who actually worked during lockdown worked from home. Working from home was already common practice within these occupations before lockdown, be it in the form of teleworking or in addition to time spent at their workplace: 54% of people in these jobs worked from home a year earlier, that is to say more than twice the share of all employed people in that period. This group represents 17% of total employment. Most are managers and higher intellectual professionals (78% compared to 21% of total employment). State civil service employees (29% compared to 9% of jobs on average) and people living in the Paris region (33% compared to 19% on average) are over-represented.

Figure 4a – Groups of occupations according to employment conditions during lockdown, characteristics

Figure 4a – Groups of occupations according to employment conditions during lockdown, characteristics - Reading Note: during the lockdown period in 2020, 17.0% of employed people were involved in a occupation where there was “widespread recourse to working from home”. They worked 32.3 hours per week on average during this period.
Still working on site Widespread recourse to working from home Rise in working from home Limited options for teleworking Activity brought to a halt Total employment¹
Proportion in employment (in %) 8.9 17.0 25.5 25.7 18.7 100.0
Number of hours worked per week
2019 (in hours) 31.4 36.5 32.6 29.4 31.7 31.9
2020 (in hours) 29.4 32.3 22.8 17.0 10.7 21.0
Change between 2019 and 2020 (in %) -6.2 -11.6 -30.1 -42.2 -66.4 -34.4
Working from home²
2019 (in %) 9.1 54.1 29.7 9.0 19.0 22.5
2020 (in %) 12.3 85.9 66.2 14.6 34.8 47.2
Change between 2019 and 2020 (in points) 3.3 31.8 36.5 5.6 15.8 24.7
Characteristics in 2020 (in %)
Women 59.6 46.3 52.6 47.4 40.2 47.8
Under 25 years of age 11.2 2.2 5.1 7.5 13.5 7.6
Immigrants 5.6 8.3 7.6 13.4 13.7 10.4
Managers and higher intellectual professionals 9.0 77.9 25.7 0.0 3.0 21.0
Paris region 12.7 32.5 21.7 12.7 17.0 19.2
Employment status in 2020 (in %)
Self-employed 5.7 19.7 17.2 0.9 18.7 12.6
Private sector 53.9 46.5 62.0 85.6 73.5 67.5
State civil service 13.7 29.0 10.2 1.0 0.8 9.1
Territorial civil service 5.0 4.3 8.1 10.7 6.4 7.4
Hospital civil service 21.7 0.5 2.6 1.9 0.6 3.3
  • 1. Only occupations involving at least 50,000 people are included in the classification, that is to say 95% of total employment.
  • 2. Proportion of people having worked at least once from home over the last four weeks among people having worked.
  • Notes: the classification is based on the number of hours actually worked per week, working from home, the proportion of people not having worked some or all of the week, the proportion of people having at least one day not worked for short-time working or the proportion of people having at least one day not worked through sickness; both levels and changes between 2019 and 2020 are considered.
  • Reading Note: during the lockdown period in 2020, 17.0% of employed people were involved in a occupation where there was “widespread recourse to working from home”. They worked 32.3 hours per week on average during this period.
  • Coverage: France excluding Mayotte, employed persons living in private household.
  • Source: Insee, Labour Force Surveys 2019 and 2020.

The rise in working from home partially limited the reduction in the volume of work for one in four people

The "rise in working from home" enabled certain occupations – making up a quarter of total employment – to limit slightly the effect of lockdown on the reduction in the volume of work. The number of hours worked fell substantially within these occupations, though a little less than average (–30%). They often include occupations classified as being at an intermediate level (category B civil service employees, accountants, etc.). Within these occupations, the proportion of people working from home, among people having worked for at least one hour, was 66% during lockdown, twice as much as in 2019 during the same period.

The volume of work fell sharply when teleworking was impossible or when activity was brought to a halt

For 44% of employed people, the number of hours worked collapsed during lockdown, falling more than average. This primarily includes occupations offering "limited options for teleworking": personal services workers, drivers, cleaners for example. These occupations make up 26% of jobs. On average, the number of hours worked fell by 42% compared to the previous year. Nearly a third of people stated that they were technically unemployed or in short-time working. For people who were able to work, working from home was still rare (15% during lockdown compared to 9% a year before). These jobs are more often carried out by less-skilled workers or workers living in less urbanised areas.

Finally, some occupations more or less saw their "activity brought to a halt". These trades (specialised stores sellers, waiters, physiotherapists, driving instructors, etc.) were not able to work normally as a result of the sudden suspension in their business since the start of lockdown. These occupations make up 19% of total employment. The volume of hours worked fell here by 66% compared to the previous year, and short-time working was very widespread within these occupations (on average 45% of people each week during lockdown). Compared to jobs overall, these occupations are more often carried out by men, young people or immigrants.

Sources

The Labour Force Survey is the only source that enables unemployment and activity as defined by the International Labour Office (ILO) to be measured. It is carried out every week of the year in France excluding Mayotte. About 100,000 people aged 15 or over and living in ordinary households (that is to say excluding hostels, hospitals, prisons, etc.) complete the survey each quarter. People describe their situation in relation to the labour market over the course of a given week, referred to as the "reference” week.

The data collection of the Labour Force Survey was significantly affected by the health crisis associated with Covid-19. The first and last interviews, which are usually carried out face-to-face, had to be carried out over the telephone. For the first interviews, for which the interviewers did not yet have home telephone numbers, this resulted in a reduction in the response rate. However, the effect has been limited because it only relates to part of the sample. Moreover, the usual non-response correction made the results representative of the population as a whole.

This survey is usually disseminated on a quarterly or annual basis. Because of the size of the shock to the economy, the survey is used here in respect of the weeks affected by lockdown, that is to say from 16 March to 10 May 2020. This period is compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, that is to say the period from 18 March to 12 May 2019. In 2020, as in 2019, this period was influenced by the school spring holidays and public holidays, thus affecting the number of hours actually worked.

In the survey, the persons state whether they have actually worked for at least one hour during a given week, referred to as the reference week, or whether they have a job from which they were absent. In the latter case, they state the main reason why they did not work: holiday, sickness, maternity/paternity leave, training, short-time working, etc. If they worked for at least one hour, they indicate whether they have not worked on certain days of the week and give the reason for this. In those rare cases (0.4% of those in employment who were absent for some or all of the week) where the person worked for part of the week with more than one type of absence (for example, one day sick and one day on holiday), the reason is prioritised here as follows: short-time working, sickness, holiday then other reason. Occurrences of short-time working measured by the survey are declarative and do not necessarily correspond to the persons’ administrative situation. As going into short-time working depends on steps taken by the employer, some people may wrongly have declared themselves as being on holiday, particularly at the beginning of lockdown. Conversely, some people may have declared themselves to be in short-time working (or technically unemployed) even though it was not the case, this reason reflecting most closely the situation in which they found themselves. Similarly, it is possible that some people, particularly those having benefited from the health insurance absenteeism scheme, declared themselves to be absent for sick leave without actually being sick. People who worked for the entire week are those who did not declare any days (or half-days) not worked during the week. Days usually not worked on part-time basis are not considered to be days not worked here.

Working from home is measured over the last four weeks preceding the end of the reference week for those in employment during the reference week. Information on working from home is only collected for a sub-sample, about a third of the total sample. Working from home may only relate to a part of working hours and is more widespread than teleworking as defined by the Labour Code.

A classification of occupations based on employment conditions is carried out. It is based on a list of aggregated occupations defined by the first three positions in the occupation as defined by the 2003 classification of occupations and socio-professional categories (PCS). Farmers are combined together as a single occupation. Only occupations involving at least 50,000 people are included, that is to say 95% of total employment. The classification is based on various characteristics (the number of hours actually worked per week, working from home, the proportion of people not having worked for some or all of the week, the proportion of people having at least one day not worked due to short-time working or the proportion of people having at least one day not worked through sickness), both as considered the level and the evolution between 2019 and 2020. The classification is carried out in relation to occupations and not in relation to people. As a result, by construction, everyone in the same occupation belongs to the same group.

Définitions


Employment as defined by the International Labour Office (ILO): anyone who has worked for at least one paid hour during the reference week, or was absent from their job, subject to certain conditions regarding reasons (holiday, sick leave, maternity leave, etc.) and/or duration. In particular, persons who have a job but have not worked during the reference week because of holidays, sick leave for less than a year or short-time working (of whatever duration) are considered to be employed.