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Should the working week be substantially reduced?

(17 Posts)
absent Mon 25-Mar-13 08:13:37

Orca That, of course, is how the government can claim that unemployment is going down. Well that and the targets set for Job Centres to sanction a certain number of Jobseeker allowance claimants each week. Once sanctioned, they come off the list. If they are not on the list, they are not unemployed.

Orca Mon 25-Mar-13 07:40:39

Many people work part-time anyway, some through choice but the majority because they cannot get a full-time job. One estimate puts it at 30% of the work force.

absent Mon 25-Mar-13 07:24:17

I think it is inevitable that the working week will be reduced over time and everyone and everything will readjust. The transition period will, however, be difficult for those stuck in their ways

Eloethan Sun 24-Mar-13 21:13:54

It seems some economists are thinking along the same lines:

Greatnan Sun 24-Mar-13 20:20:32

Flickety - I was sure that my reference to 'entrepeneur' would be recognised as irony!
I agree with the rest of your post though - the 'pont' is particularly annoying when you have work to be done. If a public holiday falls on a Thursday or Tuesday, most French tradesmen make it a long weekend.

FlicketyB Sun 24-Mar-13 19:38:16

GreatNan, I too like the French work ethic, part of the time, but having a building project held up because the mason took a year to fulfil his contract to do some masonry for us, made us less laid back about it and not knowing whether when we get to France on Tuesday a plumber will have finally been and fixed the leak that makes the bathroom unuseable, knowing that if he hasn't our chances of getting him out before Easter are close to nil is also irritating.

France also has very high unemployment, massive debts and a sluggish and shrinking economy, more so than Britain. the French do have a word for entrepreneur. It is entrepreneur, but all of France's young entrepreneurs are coming to Britain to start their businesses because starting a new business in France is so clogged by red tape and high upfront social security charges that it inhibits economic development.

Unfortunately, in England, if we worked fewer hours it would not lead to lower prices because so much of what we consume comes from abroad. Even products made in Britain require oil, gas and electricity for manufacture and transport, raw materials are imported - and the prices for all these products are decided internationally. The same applies to home consumption of energy.

All of us can suggest simple solutions that will sort out all our ills but sadly none of them work. Change comes from constant tiny changes made by individuals and that makes controlling them very difficult.

POGS Sun 24-Mar-13 18:06:43

People can work 20 hours a week, if they choose to. It is only practical if you can afford it.

As an idea, that's all it can be. To be able to do it you would have to commit to paying the same wage for 20 hours work as you did for 37 hours. That would be an impossible thing to do.

Nice dream though.

goldengirl Sun 24-Mar-13 08:55:30

I'm in a company which deals with people across the world and it's difficult enough as it is to juggle time zones! We do have staggered starts so that some staff can get off earlier - or later - to miss the traffic. We allow staff to leave if they have a problem eg school closing early unexpectedly. We have the odd activity over the lunch period eg book sale, BBQ, cultural food experience and it seems to work. If some engineers need to finish off a project that can be done at home where they won't be interrupted so be it. I think it's flexibility that counts over all. We find that staff either leave after a year or two or stay with us for the duration. Shortening the working week would be nice but impracticable at the present time. Also not all jobs can be shared and I would argue that it takes a certain type of person to be able to do it effectively.

Eloethan Sat 23-Mar-13 23:23:19

We may never live in an ideal world, but maybe we could live in a better one if we were willing to think about new ways of doing things and, as positivepam says, take a closer look at our priorities - not just young people but everyone.

Nothing ever changes until people say it can be changed.

grannyactivist Sat 23-Mar-13 22:50:50

A four day working week and three day weekend would be a wonderful solution I think. If only.................[wistful emoticon]

Greatnan Sat 23-Mar-13 22:36:15

This would eat into profits, the sacred cow of British politics.
When I had my own business I employed two friends, both with grown up children, who shared one job. One would come in the morning and just brought her friend up to speed when she came at lunchtime. It worked very well, but they both had working husbands.
In France, most people work no more than 35 hours and heaven help anybody who suggests they stagger lunch hours to keep stores open! Those that do stay open, usually have one till open no matter how busy they are. However, France has some awful financial problems - some caused by the huge army of public sector employees. I found it very sad that a huge majority of French teenagers wanted to work for the Government when they left school!.
I think it was 'Dubya' who said 'The French don't even have a word for entrepeneur'. grin
I think there has been some research to show that longer hours in the office do not lead to better productivity and in fact some workers are reduced to pretending to be busy so they don't look like shirkers. I always took the view that if there was a certain amount of work to be done, and my staff could get through it quickly and efficiently, I was happy for them to go home before their stated home time. In response, they were always very loyal and worked longer hours if we had a rush of work. But - and this is a very big but - I never had staff with young children that needed to be picked up from school or nursery.

ginny Sat 23-Mar-13 21:52:27

Positivepam... and so say I.

Anne58 Sat 23-Mar-13 20:00:41

In an ideal world the working week would be 4 days, and the weekend 3. Unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world.

positivepam Sat 23-Mar-13 19:56:56

I also think that if we could persuade some of the yonger generation that possibly they do not need all the many materialistic things that seem to be so important, that possibly they wouldn't need to work so many hours to earn so much money to pay for it all. Wanting and needing are not the same thing and it is time to pass this on to our DC and DGC and hope that one day our lives become less complicated perhaps? smile

Movedalot Sat 23-Mar-13 16:34:13

I can see that it could work with some jobs but not so sure in others. At the moment there is discussion about continuity of care in hospitals so shorter hours would make that even more difficult. My own job would have been difficult to share. You wouldn't get buy-in from the majority of those in work and I'm not sure that prices would drop to compensate for the lack of salary. Nice idea but I don't think we live in an ideal world.

Mishap Sat 23-Mar-13 16:26:34

I too share your concern about parents working all hours to pay the mortgage and having so little time to enjoy their children. It is quite mad when there are so many people unemployed but also so many people working excessive hours that encroach on their quality of life. How to get things into balance eludes me!

Eloethan Sat 23-Mar-13 16:08:16

In our grandparents' time the working week was a lot longer than now. Although it was subsequently reduced, it has been a long time since there has been any significant reduction in the working week.

At the moment we are in a chaotic situation where some people are working really long hours in one job, others are working really long hours in a combination of two or three jobs, some are working "average" hours, an increasing number are working part-time hours, on which they find it difficult to support themselves, and a significant number are unemployed.

I wondered if it would be a good idea for the working week to be reduced to around 20 hours. If work was shared there would be more of it, workers would be less tired and more productive, parents could share child care more easily, people could help more with the wider family and community, etc. etc.

But, you say, how could people afford to go from working full time to working part time? I believe that if most people were earning less, prices would adjust accordingly. Also, outgoing such as childcare and travel costs would be reduced. When it was unusual for married women to go out to work, families survived on one wage. As more and more married women went out to work, prices adjusted upwards, and now we are in the situation where it's almost a necessity for both parents to work.

I expect many people will think this an impractical and naive suggestion - and perhaps it is. There was a great deal of derision when, decades ago, it was proposed that people should have at least half a day off a week, but it didn't turn out to be the disaster that many had predicted. I think we need to look at new ways of organising society that don't prevent women from pursuing careers or prevent men from participating in their children's upbringing, at the same time as creating a more equal work/family/leisure balance.