Sweden Six-Hour Work Day Program Scrapped Due to Too-High Costs

Sweden's six-hour working day trial appears doomed after Gothenburg pilot

Sweden's six-hour working day experiment appears doomed after attempts to roll it out in one city were deemed "too expensive". However, it seems that the plan has already run into trouble, with one two-year pilot scheme coming to an end due to the high costs that come with implementing shorter work hours regardless of the benefits.

The study showed that employees at Svartedalen residential home felt healthier, which reduced sick leave absence, and that patient care improved. But Gothenburg city bosses were forced to hire 17 extra workers during the experiment, at a cost of 12 million kronor ($1.7M), and decided the scheme was too expensive to maintain. But the city won't make the plan permanent.

Politician Daniel Bernmar, responsible for elderly care in the city, said: 'It's associated with higher costs, absolutely. The trial has been closely watched globally, with labor activists touting progressive Sweden as a role model in shortening working hours. In France, presidential candidate François Fillon has promised to get rid of the country's current 35-hour work week if elected, and the advent of 2017 saw the introduction of a new law that allows workers the "right to disconnect" from after-hours work emails. Although the data show a decline in the average length of the working day in the country in recent decades, no one has the intention to introduce 6-hour working day nationally.

The final set of findings is expected in March but the latest report said unemployment costs were slashed by 4.7 million kronor during the first 18 months of the experiment thanks to the added hiring.

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Still, Bernmar says he'd like to see more studies into whether an abbreviated working day could also result in long-term gains for society as a whole.

He is still in favor of shorter hours in the long-term, believing it could help those in labour-intensive jobs to extend their working lives.

"The richer we become, the more we need to take advantage of that wealth in other ways than through a newer vehicle or higher consumption", Bernmar said, according to Bloomberg.

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