From Iceland — Reykjavík Experiments With Shorter Work Week

Reykjavík Experiments With Shorter Work Week

Published March 1, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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The city of Reykjavík will be making a tentative experiment with a shorter full-time work week for some of their employees.

As announced on the city’s website, 25 employees of the Árbær and Grafarholt Social Services centres and 40 employees of Child Protective Services will have their full-time work week reduced from 40 hours to 35 without a reduction in pay. The experiment is to start March 2 and last a year.

“These workplaces were chosen because they are, more often than not, under a great deal of pressure,” the announcement reads in part. “We believed it appropriate to examine what effects a shorter work week would have on the health, well-being, work environment and service [of the employees].”

During the course of the experiment, employees will be regularly assessed on their general well-being, while the level of service provided will also be measured. The city points out that public employees in Iceland “work longer work weeks than elsewhere in the European Union. Research shows that longer working hours reduce both productivity and work satisfaction.”

This assertion is backed up by OECD data, which shows that Icelanders work seven more hours per week than the Dutch; six more hours per week than the Norwegians, Danes and Germans; and five more hours per week than the French. Furthermore, Iceland has lower productivity than Denmark, Spain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Norway – all of which have shorter work weeks.

Last October, the Pirate Party submitted a bill which proposed shortening the full-time work week from 40 hours to 35. The bill, which has yet to pass, was met with strong opposition from representatives of management.

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