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

Vickie Mathis
January 6, 2017

That's according to the preliminary results of a two-year experiment carried out in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, the home of Volvo. Those reduced schedules required the Svartedalens nursing home to hire 17 new employees at a cost of 1.26 million Euros, the equivalent of roughly $1.3 million.

While the takeaway has largely been positive for the nurses, who are feeling healthier, and patients, whose care has improved, the city has no plans of making it permanent or expanding it to other facilities once its completed later this year.

The experiment, which began in 2015 and took place at a retirement home in Gothenburg on the country's west coast, opted to keep salaries the same while reducing the work hours of 68 nurses.

"It's associated with higher costs, absolutely", said local politician Daniel Bernmar, Bloomberg reported.

The experiment in Gothenburg is just one of a series of attempts to shorter working day in Sweden. "It's far too expensive to carry out a general shortening of working hours within in a reasonable time frame".

Some theories say shortening working hours could help workers have a longer working life. 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.

While historical data shows that the length of average working days has fallen in Sweden over the past century, there are now no plans to establish six-hour working days at a national level.

The additional hiring helped the national government reduce unemployment costs by 4.7 million kronor ($689,811) during the first 18 months of the trial, but the costs of hiring were eventually too high for the city.

Despite the results, Bernmar still believes in shorter hours in the long-term.

"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.

Other reports by MyHealthBowl

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