Human Rights Office Supports Shorter Work Week - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Human Rights Office Supports Shorter Work Week

Published February 12, 2016

Photos by
Slandsvi/Wikimedia Commons

The Icelandic Human Rights Centre (IHRC) is in favour of shortening the full-time work day from eight hours to seven, joining the increasing numbers who support the idea.

RÚV reports that a bill is currently before parliament that, if passed, would change the definition of “full time” work from 40 hours per week to 35. The IHRC has come out in favour of the legislation.

The IHRC points out that increased working hours do not necessarily mean increased productivity. On the contrary, a shortened work week is what actually increases production and increases the quality of life for workers.

While the bill is from the opposition, the idea of a shorter work week has been gaining considerable traction in Iceland. The City of Reykjavík began experimenting with a 35-hour-week at some of its workplaces, and about 40% of Icelanders support the idea.

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.

A recent Swedish initiative to shorten the full time work day to six hours has been going well, with some Icelanders calling for the idea to be taken up here. In addition, gender studies expert Thomas Brorsen Smidt has proposed to shorten it even further, to four hours.

Tomas’ talk on why a full-time work day must be shortened to four hours can be seen here.

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