A November-December 2021 study of federal employees who participated in work week reductions stated that their satisfaction is high, reports RÚV.
The working week reductions were included in a collective wage agreements in 2020. The agreements were created to bring more work-life balance to Icelanders, who have historically worked longer hours than people in other nations.
Even though overall satisfaction is higher, some professions and workplaces did not have the same positive outcomes. Larger workplaces experienced lower overall satisfaction than smaller workplaces. Also, despite the goal to make shift work more attractive, healthcare workers, security guards, and other shift workers all had some unfavorable consequences.
“There was, of course, a persistent under-supply before the reduction in the healthcare sector, and the slope did not narrow during COVID,” says Sonja Ýr Þorbergsdóttir, Chair of labour union BSRB. “Shift workers also work all the days that day workers do not work, and they do not get a reduction in the number of days with the reduction.”
The reductions did not impact the wages of daily wage earners, however, some professions have been impacted. Professions that are shift based, like nursery school jobs, have been struggling to ensure wages stay the same with the reductions.
Despite these negative impacts, workers still want more reductions in their work weeks. Some workers are arguing for a three-day weekend, while others suggest that a full week with shorter day hours would be better.
“There is a lot of back and forth in this regard, one of the main reasons for shortening the work week is to reduce stress levels and prevent burnout, pay close attention to nutrition, exercise, and sleep,” says Sonja Ýr. “The question is whether a three-day weekend would help, or whether a shorter day-to-day would be better.”
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