Czech trade unions have been pushing for a shorter work week by two and a half hours, but a recent survey shows that Czech employees are dreaming of much more – a five-hour work day and unlimited holidays.
A survey by the Up ČR agency indicates that 45 percent of Czechs would welcome a five hour work day, saying it would significantly reduce their stress and boost their well-being. 40 percent of them would moreover welcome unlimited holiday time, which at present is four weeks a year.
This preference goes across the board, regardless of age or sex, and Czechs, who currently work longer than most Europeans, feel it is time to seek inspiration from abroad in countries such as France, Germany or the US, where shortened work hours have not only reduced stress, but actually increased productivity.
At present, the standard working week in the Czech Republic is 41.1 hours, including a 30-minute break for lunch every day. Trade unions are pushing to get it shortened by two and a half hours a week to 37.5, without a cut in salaries. If working hours were shortened by 30 minutes a day, Czech employees would have 130 extra hours of free time each year.
The idea of a five hour work day is not entirely from the realm of fantasy – it was introduced last year by the German company Rheingans Digital Enabler and two years ago by the US company Tower Paddle Boards which subsequently became one of the fastest growing companies in the US.
The chance that Czech employees would see this kind of benefit in the foreseeable future is slim to say the least. Employers point to the lower productivity of Czech employees and argue that in certain professions this would be downright impossible. A recent study by Reiffeisen bank suggests that shorter work hours would reduce productivity and slow economic growth.
Unfortunately, the only realistic alternative to a five-hour work day – which would be a part time job is also beyond most people’s reach, because part-time jobs are still few and far between.
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