“They can have their 35-hour cake and eat 25% bonus time too.”

January 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Economy, Foreign Affairs | Leave a comment
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Alsace-Lorraine Street, Toulouse, France (some time between 1890 and 1900)

Alsace-Lorraine Street, Toulouse, France (some time between 1890 and 1900)

(Yahoo/Time) Few of the expected changes to the 35-hour week have materialized since France’s Conservative government passed a measure in July [2008] designed to make it easier for bosses to force their employees to work more.

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“And by allowing companies to calculate employee time worked on a yearly rather than strict weekly basis as the previous law required, the 35-hour law provides businesses with badly needed flexibility to adapt to evolving activity at lower cost.”

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More crucially, perhaps, the 35-hour week’s survival owes a lot to other measures the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy has passed as part of its mantra of “work more to earn more.” Key to that is a provision introduced in late 2007 that makes overtime more profitable to both companies and employers by waving taxes and social charges. The ironic result: bosses and workers now find they can have their 35-hour cake and eat 25% bonus time too. “Rather than increasing the set week to 37, 39, or 40 hours – and have to raise fixed salaries proportionally – it’s more logical to stay at 35 hours, and go beyond or below it with affordable extra-time as demand surges or decreases,” says Zenevre, who is also head of the Lorraine regional section of France’s General Confederation of Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses, the nation’s largest employer category. “This flexibility is particularly valuable with the recession setting in and really disrupting demand.”

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