Jeremy Hunt
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said British workers should be more like Chinese and AmericansGetty

We should work a bit harder in Britain, says the Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt. A bit more like they do in China and America, the world's two largest economies.

"My wife is Chinese," Hunt said at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. "We want this to be one of the most successful countries in the world in 20, 30, 40 years' time. There's a pretty difficult question that we have to answer, which is essentially: are we going to be a country that is prepared to work hard in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard, in the way that Americans are prepared to work hard? And that is about creating a culture where work is at the heart of our success."

Leaving aside the implied dig against British workers – are we really less hardworking than other people? – and the significant economic differences between us, China and the US – China's rapid growth over the past 25 years is because it started from such a low base – we don't fare badly on our island when it comes to work.

According to data from the OECD, UK workers put in on average 1,677 hours a year. Compare that to the US, where this rises to 1,789 per worker. Chinese data is hard to come by. But according to the most recent ILO figures, which are for 2009, the Chinese worked getting on for 2,300 hours in a year on average.

And when it comes to workers' rights, UK workers are entitled to more paid holiday a year. Statutory holiday in the UK is 5.6 weeks a year for a full-time worker, which can include public holidays. In the US, there is no statutory holiday at all – the Department for Labour leaves it as a matter between employers and employees. For Chinese workers, it depends how long you have worked, with your leave entitlement rising from 5 to 15 days. There are an additional 11 days of public holiday for all workers.

The gross median hourly wage, adjusted for purchasing power parity, in the UK is £9.19 and just 78p in China, according to wageindicator.co.uk. Real average hourly earnings were $10.55 (£6.95) in the US in August 2015, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

All things considered, do you agree with Jeremy Hunt that British workers must work harder to be more like China and the US?