Iceland's four-day week: a model for all Europe?

After four years of trials Iceland is introducing a four-day workweek. Around 86 percent of the country's employees will now have the right to work a 35-hour week instead of the previous 40 hours - with full pay. Trials with one percent of the workforce testified to fewer cases of burnout, higher job satisfaction and equal or even improved performance. The model is stimulating debate in other countries.

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Krytyka Polityczna (PL) /

Less is more here

Krytyka Polityczna thinks it's a good idea:

“The calls to limit working hours are not an expression of laziness but of rationality. Their supporters do not simply want to work less - they want to work better, more efficiently and with more commitment. The shorter working week is not an excuse for lazy people, but an attempt to make our workdays more efficient.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Better to shorten the working day

Der Standard argues that the four-day week does not optimally serve the interests of employees and employers:

“Shorter working hours are in keeping with our times and bring numerous advantages - from higher productivity and improved quality of life to climate protection. ... Surveys show that a shorter working week is popular with many younger employees and women for whom work-life balance is more important than a bigger salary. Above all, the four-day week is popular because it allows for a long weekend. ... But companies that set higher productivity as a goal would do better to shorten working hours; that way they can boost the concentration and efficiency of their workforce.”

Der Nordschleswiger (DK) /

Working nine to five is passé

In Denmark, the left-wing Unity List called on the government to examine the Icelandic model while other parties prefer to leave the issue to market forces. For Der Nordschleswiger, the basic direction is already clear:

“Both approaches are possible: state funding to gather experience and monitor projects scientifically, and at the same time a labour market in which employers and employees agree on a four-day week, flexible working hours or working from home. Which model ultimately prevails remains to be seen, because employees will want to work where they can find the right balance between income, work and free time. Employers and employees should start preparing themselves for a different way of working in the near future, because working nine to five is passé.”