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Finnish PM Marin calls for 4-day-week and 6-hours working day in the country (neweurope.eu)
114 points by joeyespo 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 80 comments

Keynes conjectured reduced workload (or the equivalent: ever rising compensation) would be the natural consequence of increased productivity. What went wrong seems to come from at least two things he did not expect.

Firstly, rather than continuing the trend of increasing political power in the early post war period, the productive classes, including employees, have lost political power relative to the ownership classes and thus control of resource allocation decisions.

Secondly, outside tech and a few other vibrant sectors, capital sits idles or is used unproductively (for example in real-estate speculation) or even to destroy wealth (for example through expanded rent seeking). This is relevant because in these cases the increased wealth from increased productivity is just wasted rather than being used productively or at least spent on quality of life.

It's nice to see that somewhere, a few people are trying to address that first issue.

I think it's also worth pointing out that, while gains in productivity from increased automation that Keynes predicted would contribute to a 15 hour work week may have been realized, the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio has risen quickly. Because of this, the gains would not have been distributed evenly.

"From 1978 to 2013, CEO compensation, inflation-adjusted, increased 937 percent, a rise more than double stock market growth and substantially greater than the painfully slow 10.2 percent growth in a typical worker’s compensation over the same period." [0]

"The CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was 20-to-1 in 1965 and 29.9-to-1 in 1978, grew to 122.6-to-1 in 1995, peaked at 383.4-to-1 in 2000, and was 295.9-to-1 in 2013, far higher than it was in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s." [0]

[0] https://www.epi.org/publication/ceo-pay-continues-to-rise/

I am curious about rent in Finland as well. I agree 100% with the fact that real-estate is the number 1 reason middle classes lost in power. it is the number 1 limitation when 30 to 50% of your income goes into your rent it is basically like slaving half of the time for some random guy who has a grandfather who bought some buildings two or three generations ago. we need to change this if we want our societies to work.

> In neighbouring Sweden, where the 6-hour-day has already been applied since 2015, results showed that employees were happier, wealthier and more productive, as they were still fully paid and customers were more satisfied.

I am Swedish and am puzzled by this. What is it refering to?

Never heard of this site but it seems like someone very unfamiliar with the countries talking about some tiny experiments as if they were the norm.

> The Nordic nation has embraced agile working patterns for decades as the country adopted the Working Hours Pact in 1996, which gives most employees the right to adjust their typical working hours of their workplace by starting or finishing up to three hours earlier or later.

This is also completely untrue. I guess they mean Working Hours Act which specifies no such thing.

Is it really untrue? Seems there is something to it, although maybe not unilateral right, but certainly there some language around flexibility up to 3 hours in the Act.

Maybe some Finnish lawyers chip in here on the actual interpretation of this?

Section 13. "Flexible working hours":

"When working hours are flexible, the regular daily working hours shall be extended or reduced by a flexible period of no more than three hours."


Not a lawyer but I work in Finland. This is not a "right" of employees but sets the limits for what kind of flex-time agreements can legally be entered into. In many white-collar jobs people don't really care about the legal limits, and in fact the new law (in force since yesterday) allows for more flexible arrangements.

https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/2019/20190872#L4P13 (doesn't seem to be available in English at this time)

I am Finnish and am equally puzzled about this whole news story. It seems to be referring to an event in August 2019 that celebrated the 120th anniversary of Finland's Social Democratic Party, where Marin apparently suggested reducing the work week. While she is now prime minister, Finland always has a coalition government that currently consists mainly of leftist and centrist parties, and the coalition agenda is the result of a negotiation. The current agenda does not include reducing the work week: the closest I can find is

> The prospects for increasing the flexibility of working time will be examined with a view to balancing the harmonisation of work and family and prolonging working careers. The aim in particular is to improve part-time working opportunities for parents of small children and for those who are caring for elderly relatives.

http://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/handle/10024/161935 (there's a PDF link on the page)

i think we need to mention that the experiment failed and was not implemented.

I wouldn't call it a failure just because it wasn't implemented more. It had many benefits over a 40 hour work week.

Yeah I guess that must be it. The article is certainly misleading.

'studied' might be a more accurate word than 'applied', which is ambiguous.

I dunno if this is intentionally misleading or a language barrier.

Also Swedish, and equally puzzled. I think we've got to realize that there's a low-intensity political war in this aspect, and that we're (supposedly) battleground zero.

To be honest, whenever I see this, all I think is: Entitlement. "I've reached this level. I want to stop others from reaching this level."

"I want to just limit my work to what I feel is sensible, and no-one should be allowed to compete with my work."

I think they were referring to this "experiment" https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-03/swedish-s...

I read some time ago that there was a trial but i never heard anything after that.


I care less about workday length than the number of work days. 4 day workweeks make much more sense. At least in the workplaces I've been in Friday is already this no man's land of a day where people phone it in or work from home as is.

yeah, but they're still working right?

That's a super important point - being mostly checked out means you're still there, and you're not actually getting the rest and recuperation actually not being there provides. If anything you then get the guilt of not doing enough to stack on top of your inability to actually, really, relax.

depends on the company and individual

i think as is it is at most a half working day for a lot of people and yet you're expected to treat it like a full day

with a true 4 day workweek then you can focus on working 4 "real" full days

Who's to say that Thursday won't become the new Friday though?

I’d like to see extended four day working tests to see if Thursday becomes the new Friday.

I don’t think it will. Friday is Friday because the weekend is too short to meaningfully enjoy. Right now you have 2 days and a few hours, though Sunday night is mostly a wash because you need to rest before work. A lot of people like weekend trips - you have to meticulously plan something to make that work for a regular work week.

Think about how much easier (and relaxing) it is to plan something to do with 3-day weekends. If that happened every week you wouldn’t need to be distracted on a Thursday (or Monday) to make it work.

If it does, what's the problem? Maybe three days is actually the correct work week...

This is why we can have small scale experiments to see what happens.

No, she or her coalition has not demanded for a test run.

That "utopia" was introduced in August (four months before Marin became PM) as a proposal for the future.

Thanks for clarifying. I will put that site on my personal "do not trust" list.

And just to add, "utopia" was the wording Marin herself used. Of course she supports the idea but I assume she does not see it as a realism in very near future.

Yes, the site made its way to my do-not-trust list as well.

Whenever this sort of policy comes up I wonder about the effects at the extreme ends of the spectrum.

If you're in a position to opt-out of this sort of policy and become more competitive as a result, then this can be great for you because you improve your position relative to the others.

A bit like how people talk about capping incomes, seeminly not realising that this cements pre-existing owners of wealth further.

Right now I'm sort of in an OK position, but ten years ago I would have told you - I don't want a 4-day week, because you're ahead of me, and I want to catch up with you.

I mean, ultimately there's nothing stopping most people negotiating a 4 day week. It just seems to be the case that "most" people accept whatever job is thrown at them, so if you're unskilled, it's difficult to convince an employer of anything even slightly unusual. Fixing _that_ situation (e.g. giving people leverage of some sort) is the way to go, IMO.

I think it makes sense to work less for many reasons. But some politicians propose it like it would cost nothing, or that the costs would be eaten by the employers. To the voters it is proposed as "work less and get paid the same". I think that is dishonest.

It worked for the weekend. With increases in productivity, I don't see any reason why reducing hours couldn't work again today.

In 1940, when the weekend was implemented in the United States, the real GDP per capita was 10,027.46. Today, it is 58,024.99.

With a 5.8x increase in productivity, we should be able to work significantly less then we did in 1940.


But people also demand far more from their lives. Nowadays people want to have a TV, a phone, a computer, lots of software and entrainment on these devices etc. Our cars are much safer, our food is safer, we have far better and more healthcare etc.

> Nowadays people want to have a TV, a phone, a computer, lots of software and entrainment on these devices etc

That's not where the money goes. That stuff's nothing. You can get working TVs all day long for peanuts on Craigslist. I just last week grabbed a hell of a used business workstation PC on Ebay and threw in an SSD for funsies, under $200 total including the brand-new SSD. Thing screams for all normal tasks. Will probably last years. Basically nothing in the scheme of things. Can someone on a low income reasonably buy one on a whim? No. But having a TV, phone, and computer is not why people are poor.

Housing, medical care, child care. School (see also: housing costs). Those are expensive. Our modern conveniences are nothing in comparison.

Yeah of course, it's a trade-off, but I'd argue that it's not actually what people _want_. If given the choice between having the time to cook for themselves or eat fast food, would most people choose the fast food? I'd argue most people would choose to cook for themselves [1]. The problem is, people don't have the time for that type of thing, so they instead opt for the convenient choice.

Giving people less time to do things for themselves actually increases the GDP, because it means they are paying others to do things they would rather do themselves. Then someone gets to make a profit on that, so this type of thing is encouraged by our economic system.

[1] https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2006/04/19/eating-more-enjoy...

If people are equally productive in less time, pay should stay the same for amount of work completed or contribution delivered, not hours worked.

I don't mind individual agreements between employer and employee of that nature. But as a politician, it is not possible to design legislation changes like that because different jobs varies a lot in how productivity is measured, and for some jobs, the hours matters in a way that an employee can not make up in a personal productivity. Think of a restaurant for example, or a hospital.

It's possible. It causes headaches for companies, but it's not different from adding a new tax or a new regulation.

They will just have to find a way to deal with it.

It could literally be that no one's pay is allowed to change to accommodate these new hours. If they are contact the DoL.

Yes, actually, it is possible as in so far that politicians can create whatever laws they can get majority for. But "the way to deal with it" will in many cases be bankruptcy, just like it would if the taxes were doubled.

Also, the effect on society is not to be taken lightly. A general decrease of working hours from 40 to 24 hours per week will decrease national GNP significantly. A hoped for advantage is probably that unemployed can make up some slack by becoming employable (to "share the work"), but if other countries keep a 40 hour work week it will be hard to maintain living standards

You don't need to do 40 to 24 mate. You can do a yearly decrease of 1 hour for the next 16 years.

What's the point of all this technology and innovation if we're always going to keep working the same amount.

Also if an industry can't keep up with this, oh well. That's why you do it slowly so you can handle the fallout.

I would love to see different industries use different business hours.

I'd like a dentist to be able to go to the bank, a banker to visit the dentist, without automatically having to take time off of work to do so.

It's simple. Dentist A works M-T-W, Dentist B works Thu-Fri-Sat. This is actually already common with many GP doctors, they prefer to work part-time in a similar pattern.

Besides, they can, and do block time off for personal things in their calendar.

I have real difficulty seeing how such a system would work in practice?

Helps but doesn't fix problems. The 8 am or 5 pm slot at the dentist would still fill up awfully quickly. But working hourly I always had trouble getting any self-care or errands done, as did all of my coworkers.

I dunno if this is an example or a counterexample, but there was a lumber/hardware store near my old house that would close at 4, which sounds nuts unless you know that it's a favorite among professionals. Most times if you don't know until 4 that you need a material it's too late to do anything about it anyway. Doesn't help me though, trying to do a temporary repair on anything. Have to schlep across town to the Home Depot after rush hour to get anything done.

Instead of everybody working 9-5, some offices can be open 8-4, and others 10-6.

Most productive time of my life I worked 3x13s each week covering the weekends for a 24/7 team, and had 4 days a week to myself. I was able to do so much in my life, improve my skills and really be more productive at work and a better person just from having the free time to explore. I don't know that working more/less hours each day has ever really mattered to me, but working less days per week can be life changing in a very positive way. It'd be great if we could all do 4x10 or 3x13s.

Agree with you (and others who've made similar points). Hours/day is way less important than days/week. With free days you can do significantly more with yourself, whereas if you work 6 instead of 8 hours, work still takes up most of your day and you can't plan much around it.

I can only hope this catches on in the US!

> In neighbouring Sweden, where the 6-hour-day has already been applied since 2015, results showed that employees were happier, wealthier and more productive, as they were still fully paid and customers were more satisfied.

Whoa! I did not know that this was already a thing. Well, here's hoping more orgs in the US take notice.

the experiment failed and was not continued.

and unfortunately they fail because of costs and a globalised world.

for example china's 996 model would eat europe whole if this ever got implemented over there.

I doubt 996 is as effective as a normal 955 model and if it is it is probably short lived.

my problem is this: what if 996 is the most effective system but can only be applied in certain systems, such as some china factories?

sounds like it was a very limited pilot, not a country-wide initiative.

It was a small scale experiment and is not the norm in Sweden

While we're at it, let's close most offices for the entire month of December. Nobody's really working anyway.

This or (especially) 3x8 is what I've thought is about the "right" amount of work to count as full-time when you're selling your labor, for some time now. It's past the tipping point where your employer stops dominating your entire week, but still enough to remain good at whatever you do at work, with enough multi-hour time blocks to still get plenty accomplished.

regulated work hours are not the solution. the change of paradigm should be - people being paid for outcomes, not for hours sitting in a chair. To do that, govts would have to create (or allow creation of) the infrastructure for freelancing to become the most viable lifestyle choice.

We have some real problems with health insurance for the self employed. Other than that freelancing is currently a very good option in the us.

I think these sorts of pushes can only gain traction in a country with a very extensive welfare system. Hard to imagine this working in the US, for example. People would simply figure out a way to work more in order to get ahead and compete with others. Seems to me that a more socialist form of government is a required backdrop for this to mean anything.

Definitely for some but people today work every weekend and overtime as much as they can but -most- people clock out and live their lives. Your argument is basically “why give people Saturday off, they’ll just work more!” Which is not the one I think you are consciously proposing but it’s effectively the same. Most people don’t want to work more at their jobs and would gladly take extra time to do their own stuff for the same pay.

That is a fair counterpoint.

Something that puzzles me is that any time progressive policies are being pushed through in not-USA, & someone references it in a USA policy discussion, there's a blanket "That wouldn't work here, we have 300 million people.." even in conversations where the policy should benefit from economies of scale (pharma). The main defense should be that there's a lot of unpopulated land which requires maintenance (highways). Of course, this issue applies to Canada as well, which is able to support more progressive policies

I don't think it's just the size of the population, but the characterization of it. In the USA there's a rather vast underclass compared to other prosperous countries. I'm not sure about the size in general, but in many Rust Belt cities I wouldn't be surprised if a quarter or even half of the population are disenfranchised by decades and centuries of discrimination, requiring an approach of "take what you can get when you can get it" rather than "be a valued and valuable part of a larger community".

I hope one day down the line Universal Basic Income can level the playing field somewhat - that's one progressive policy that can't be "abused" because it's universal. No one is going to claim it fraudulently, nor will they suspect others of doing so, because that's impossible.

You don't need socialism for this.

A company in the US can offer a 4 day work week and 6 hour workdays as a perk to attract top talent.

Many federal, state, and county employees already alternate Fridays off.

Perhaps not socialism, but you need a much more domineering state IF the goal is for people to work less. I'm suggesting that in the US the work culture is very intense and competitive and people will use the time freed up to do more work. My bet is that total numbers worked will not go down as a result of something like this if it were instituted in the US. I could be wrong...

I don't understand your logic?

How does

"People would simply figure out a way to work more in order to get ahead and compete with others."

matter at all?

Why would a person who is willing to work extra being paid extra matter, regardless if they normally would work 8 hours or 6?

See my other comment. It matters if the goal is to institute, at a national level, people working less in absolute terms, I could be wrong that that's the goal, but if it is my point is that for that to work, you need have a more dominating state than what exists, in say, the US.

Still not getting your logic.

Let's say your a random person Betty, and you need to work 64 hours to support your requirements (40 hours a week + a part time 24 hour job). If the govern decided that 40 hours should be 32 instead and you get paid the exact same. That doesn't mean you then can now get another job at 8 hours, no that means you get everything you need in 56 hours.

More time to do other stuff besides work.

Sure there will be people that want to excel rather then stay stationary and maybe they'll pick up another job or another shift and work another 8 hours. That doesn't mean that's wrong.

All that it means is 90% of the people work less. You can't govern a nation is absolutes, you govern a nation with majorities. Nobody gets 100% of the votes, no bill passes with 100% of the populous support. So nothing is absolute.

Honestly, I want a 30 hour work week so I can work 10 hours a week on my own stuff, volunteer work, or both. Some weeks (months) I'd do nothing. Others I'd work 20 hours. I think I'd be happier making 80% (75% + lower taxes) of what I make now as long as I have health insurance.

That said, I could totally see such a thing being labelled as another phase in the war on the middle class, where a lot of so-called middle class people are working two 3/4 jobs to maintain their standard of living.

I think getting rid of employer based healthcare would be a huge step forward towards this type of flexibility. I think most employers would be more open to this, but know they have fixed costs per employee and it is too difficult to to determine what a pro rated salary would be.

better yet, separate 401K and all other benefits while you are at it

Why is it bad if someone wants to work more? It just lowers the baseline amount of work required from everyone, it doesn't cap it for someone who is diligenter than average.

I didn't say it's bad at all. Different cultures have different attitudes towards work. In the US, we work very intensely and I'm simply suggesting that instituting a 4-day week and 6 hour day will not result in people working only 4 days, not in the US at least. People will, voluntarily, fill up the other time with other money-making endeavors. And I'm not saying that's a problem. My point is simply that (maybe my assumption is wrong here), presumably, the goal of such proposals is to reduce the amount of time people spend working on an absolute basis and that this will not be the end-result in every country.

I don't know if you're right about that. How did we ever go from 12-hour days and 6 day work weeks to the current 40 hour week?

Is the current 40hw/8h socialist? Do you prefer employment law to not set age limits so 10 year olds can mine again?

Socialism is something else not to be confused with labor standards or water safety or building code rules or parking fines or mail delivery.

It would be interesting to find out how many US workers actually do 40/8

Based on this [1] paper, 85% of white collar workers are exempt from the 40 hour week limit.

p38560, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2015-07-06/pdf/2015-1...

> Is the current 40hw/8h socialist?

Well, if you look at what organizations were demanding it back in the day, it certainly is. It's kind of funny how deeply the "socialism bad" runs in Americans

You're letting your true colors show here by getting all bothered by the term socialism. It's a form of government, nothing more nothing less. I didn't say anything about how I felt about socialism, nor did I say anything to suggest there not be age limits for labor. What an absurd straw man.

I stand by my original point that if the goal of such proposals is to reduce total time spent working in absolute terms that the success of such proposals depends greatly on the form of government that exists in the country it's being proposed.

Socialism isn't a form of government. Democracy is a form of government.

Socialism is a set of principles a party might adopt to run on.

You're right, that is more precise. Thanks.

> for example. People would simply figure out a way to work more in order to get ahead and compete with others. Seems to me that a more socialist form of government is a required backdrop for this to mean anything.

how many people work 2 or 3 jobs because they want to buy luxury items vs the people that are forced to work to keep their home and pay electricity,water,heat and other must have services. I personally tried once to work more then 8 hours and it was a terrible experience. as a programmer my energy depletes fast and most of the time the best ideas I have when away from the computer.

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