France Should Ditch Its 35-Hour Workweek

Bloomberg writer: Experiment has outlived its usefulness
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2015 12:04 PM CDT
France Should Ditch Its 35-Hour Workweek

France has had a 35-hour workweek in effect for 15 years now, and it's time to let the controversial law fade away, writes Leonid Bershidsky at Bloomberg. In fact, this is already happening to some extent: Successive governments have weakened the law by providing loopholes and temporary exceptions, and current President Francois Hollande—though he's a socialist—is no different. "It doesn't mean the experiment failed, but it has probably outlived its usefulness," writes Bershidsky. The "nature of work is changing," he adds, and the law is starting to feel a little outdated.

"It's more democratic and less disruptive to leave the length of the workweek to employers and labor unions to agree, than to dictate it by law," writes Bershidsky. Besides, though the 35-hour law has generated much attention around the world, only about a third of France's workers now actually abide by it, and long-term benefits have been negligible. It's probably political suicide for the government to kill the law outright, but it has clearly "failed to establish a universal social norm as strong as the five-day, 40-hour week," writes Bershidsky. Let it "erode gradually." Click for the full post. (More France stories.)

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