France Bids Adieu to 35-Hour Work Week

More hours piled on in boost to businesses
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2008 4:55 AM CDT
French workers protesting last month against legislation to scrap the 35 hour week and allow employers to negotiate longer hours.    (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
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(Newser) – The French parliament has passed landmark legislation eliminating the 35-hour cap on the work week, Reuters reports. President Nicolas Sarkozy has long blamed the short week for France's economic struggles. Most employees work longer, but accumulate overtime pay or vacation days for the extra hours. Tens of thousands of French workers demonstrated against the reform last month.

"Companies will at last be able to operate a management policy based on a secure legal framework," said a ruling party lawmaker. "It's a remarkable advance for the economy." But critics charge the economy could suffer a blow from the loss of consumer purchasing power currently earned from overtime work, and that the change will substitute longer hours for job creation.