Analyses of Time Use in Informal Economy Workers Reveals Long Work Hours, Inadequate Rest and Time Poverty

  • Jonathan DavyEmail author
  • Didintle Rasetsoke
  • Andrew Todd
  • Tasmi Quazi
  • Patric Ndlovu
  • Richard Dobson
  • Laura Alfers
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 819)


Workers in the informal economy operate under difficult and unsafe working conditions. This and other systemic challenges can negatively affect their work ability. One aspect of informal work that is not well understood is working time, an important element of any work system as it dictates how much time is available for rest and how it contributes to time poverty. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the working time of informal workers through a time use survey. This cross sectional, descriptive study recruited ten informal worker participants from Warwick Junction, in Durban, South Africa. Traders completed a participatory time-use survey method and an activity clock, reporting on activities over a normal and busy 24-h period. More specifically, participants reported total working time, commuting time, personal time, time spent doing domestic chores and reported sleep duration, while accounting for the time allocated to each activity. On average, workers reported working 6 to 7 days per week and extended work hours. Reported sleep time varied between 6 (±1.4) and 7.2 (±1.9) h per night on busy and normal nights respectively, which provided evidence of time poverty. Female workers reported having higher demands on their time than men. While the sample was small and the data self-reported, the study provides evidence of extended work hours, inadequate rest and time poverty faced by informal workers and in particular, women. Further research should empirically explore the effects of the extended work hours and reduced time for recovery amongst informal workers.


Informal economy Working time Time use Occupational hazards 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Davy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Didintle Rasetsoke
    • 1
  • Andrew Todd
    • 1
  • Tasmi Quazi
    • 2
  • Patric Ndlovu
    • 2
  • Richard Dobson
    • 2
  • Laura Alfers
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Human Kinetics and ErgonomicsRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Asiye e TafuleniDurbanSouth Africa
  3. 3.WIEGODurbanSouth Africa

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