Thursday 5 January 2017

Sweden: Abandoning Six-Hour Workday Scheme Is The Decent Choice Because It’s Too Expensive


Swedes looking forward to a six-hour workday just got some bad news: the costs outweigh the benefits.

That is according to preliminary results of a two-year experiment carried out in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, the home of Volvo.

The working day was shortened to six hours for the 68 nurses at the Svartedalen old people's home, who got to keep the same salary level.

To cover for the reduction, the city had to hire 17 extra staff at a cost of about 12 million kronor (£1 million) for the duration of the project.

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The study showed that employees at Svartedalen residential home felt healthier, which reduced sick-leave absence, and that patient care improved. But the city will not push ahead to make the plan permanent.

“It is associated with higher costs, absolutely,” said Daniel Bernmar, a local Left-wing politician responsible for running the municipality's elderly care. “It's far too expensive to carry out a general shortening of working hours within a reasonable time frame.”

The Gothenburg experiment is just the latest in a series of shorter working day trials carried out in Sweden, a country that prides itself on its generous welfare state. The trial has been closely watched globally, with labour activists touting progressive Sweden as a role model in shortening working hours.



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