Finland’s Prime Minister proposes four-day work week
Sanna Marin, a social democrat who took office in December, leads a broad coalition that also includes greens, leftists and centrists.
“I think people deserve to spend more time with their families, loved ones, hobbies and other aspects of life, like culture,” he said. “This could be the next step for us in working life.” Marin, who is the world’s youngest national leader, also said the standard working day should be reduced to six hours, compared to the current eight.
The working week in Europe was progressively shortened in the early twentieth century, largely under pressure from the labour movement, with the gradual introduction of the two-day modern weekend and eight-hour day. But the change has been slower in recent decades, with the five-day week and the eight-hour day becoming the standard benchmark.
An attempt by French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to bring a 35-hour work week to the early 21st century was limited success, with many gaps and low acceptance. Critics say that reducing the working week while paying people the same amount would impose a cost on businesses, but advocates say the difference would be to compensate due to increased productivity. The political backdrop to the Finnish Prime Minister’s call are months of industrial unrest. The strikes ended with a wage agreement between unions and employers that saw improvements in wage increases and working conditions.