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Behind the numbers: 30 hour work weeks for Sweden?

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SocietyBehind the Numbers

In 2014, the mayor of Gothenburg said that he wanted to reduce the working week to just 30 hours. The strong-arm of Europe dismissed the idea as Utopian. However, a retirement home near to the city is in the process of testing the operation, and not without success! 

In fact, the initiation of the idea goes back even further. In 2010, Daniel Benmar, the mayoral official in charge of old people in Gothenburg, had already started to talk about it. According to him, removing 10 hours from the 40 hour daily grind already established in Sweden, could "reduce the incidences of sick leave, part-time work and early retirement, in a profession largely dominated by women." At that time, the right had opposed the motion, on the grounds that it was too expensive: 8 million krona per year, or 850,000 euros.

But today, the 30 hours work-week is indeed being tested in a local retirement home, without lowering the salaries of the workers. With just 6 hour work-days, employees say they feel better, have stil had time to finish all their work, and have even been more productive. The French magazine Libération reminds us that it is not the first time that the Swedes have experimented with such measures. In the north of the country careworkers have been working a 6 hour day for the last 16 years. In 2016, the operation could be extended to other establishments. Here's to better hours! 


This article is part of our Behind the Numbers series, illustrating newsworthy stats with artistic design and a brief analysis.

Story by

Matthieu Amaré

Je viens du sud de la France. J'aime les traditions. Mon père a été traumatisé par Séville 82 contre les Allemands au foot. J'ai du mal avec les Anglais au rugby. J'adore le jambon-beurre. Je n'ai jamais fait Erasmus. Autant vous dire que c'était mal barré. Et pourtant, je suis rédacteur en chef du meilleur magazine sur l'Europe du monde.

Translated from Le chiffre qui parle : la semaine de 30h en Suède