New research shows that 40% of Icelanders support the idea of working fewer hours for the same pay. At the same time, most Icelanders feel that they can already balance work and family life well enough.
RÚV reports that Ragnheiður Eyjólfsdóttir, project manager of Miðstöð símenntunar á Suðurnesjum (MSS), presented results of the research MSS conducted at a conference on balancing work and family life hosted by the Centre for Gender Equality, the Equality Council of the Ministry of Welfare, and several labour unions.
“My research sought to assess how workers in the Icelandic labour market are doing when it comes to balancing work and home life,” she told attendees. “Most said they were balancing the two well, but other questions regarding conflict and stress in the workplace showed that 40% supported shortening the working hours in a week. There were also 24% who said they could see themselves refusing to work overtime, and 22% who want to reduce their work percentage.”
Ragnheiður believes this could mean, as other research has shown, that Icelanders work too much, saying, “We work longer hours but are less productive than workers in neighbouring countries.”
The assertion is back up by OECD research cited in a bill submitted to parliament which proposes shortening the full time work week from 40 hours to 35 – an idea which already has even seen support from some representatives of management.
The bill points out that other countries which have shorter full time work weeks, such as Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Norway, actually experience higher levels of productivity. At the same time, Iceland ranked poorly in a recent OECD report on the balance between work and rest, with Iceland coming out in 27th place out of 36 countries. The bill also cites a recent Swedish initiative to shorten the full time work day to six hours, which has by most accounts been going well.
Reykjavík is already experimenting with a shorter full time work week at select locations.