Finland debates four-day week

The deputy leader of the ruling Social Democrats in Finland, Sanna Marin, explained at an event marking the 120th anniversary of the founding of her party that the working week could be reduced to four days in the future. She called on Social Democrats to put the issue on their agenda. How realistic is this idea?

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Suomenmaa (FI) /

Finns already have too much time on their hands

The only way to finance the welfare state is if as many people as possible work as many hours as possible, Suomenmaa stresses:

“In the employers' organisations, they don't know whether to laugh or cry. The problem in Finland is not too little free time but too much of it. People have got to work more. More people have to work and people should retire later - and productivity has to increase. Otherwise we won't be able to afford the beautiful system that we have created - for healthcare, education, social security and pensions. All this is paid for by our labour.”

Iltalehti (FI) /

New technologies increase productivity

The number of working hours is no longer relevant to productivity, Iltalehti argues:

“In spite of all the negative comments [Marin] is at least partly right. A longer working day will never lead to the sort of increase in productivity that we can expect to see in coming years with technology, automation and artificial intelligence. ... There will be less work to do and this will bring dramatic changes in some workplaces. ... At the same time the notion of reducing everybody's working hours is nonsense. It assumes that the state or the contracting partners will simply be able to decide how many hours people in Finland should work in the future. As if work were the same everywhere and it was something that could be decided upon centrally. Those days are long over.”