From Iceland — A Shorter Working Day?

A Shorter Working Day?

Published May 8, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Jói Kjartans

Representatives of management are proposing shortening the working day – although they have their own particular take on what a shortened working day would look like.

RÚV reports that Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir, the director of the Federation of Icelandic Industries, says she is ready to explore the concept of a shorter work day. In an interview with radio station Rás 2, Guðrún specifically cited Gothenburg, Sweden’s recentinitiative for a six-hour workday. 

While the Swedish experiment is still in the trial stages – this most current attempt to last one year, and only to apply to some workers – it is hoped that workers will in general be happier, more productive, and take fewer sick days as a result.

Guðrún has an emphasis of her own, telling reporters, “We have, for example, a lot of break hours, a lot of pauses in the working day. If people are ready to shorten those things, and shorten their working day, but produce the same amount of returns, then I don’t think employers will be against it.” She also says her organisation believes it is probably more realistic to shorten the workday to seven hours rather than six. 

A formal proposal from the Federation of Icelandic Industries on the matter is expected soon.

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