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'Au revoir' to the 35-hour week

Latest update : 2008-07-24

The French parliament passed a law on Wednesday allowing companies to bypass the existing rule limiting employees to just 35-hours work per week, thereby burying a flagship reform of the previous socialist government. Have your say.

Find out more about Wednesday's key parliament vote: "French parliament votes to end 35-hour week"

 

Approved in the wake of heated debates in 1998, the 35-hour week was presented as a measure of social progress and, more importantly, as a tool to curb France's spiralling unemployment rate. While many French workers have come to cherish the extra hours freed for family and leisure, the law's success on the employment front is the subject of much debate.

In recent years, a slowdown in the economy raised growing doubts about the law's ability to keep up with the requirements of a changing global economy. Meanwhile, many left-wingers grew markedly less vocal in their support for the 35-hour week.

Throughout his 2007 election campaign, Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to scrap a legislation he accused of stifling French economic growth. His promise to the French people was that by "working more", they would also "earn more".

His endeavour to bury the 35-hour week, however, has met with stiff resistance from trade unions and the wider public.

Date created : 2008-07-24

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