Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty five hours?

It is unquestionable that rising unemployment is one of the most pressing issues in the industrial world. One solution that has been put forward is to cut the working week to a maximum of 35 hours. However, in my view this solution is rather controversial and other solutions need to be found.

It is fairly easy to understand the reasons why this proposal has been made. The reasoning is that if workers are not allowed to work for more than 35 hours weekly, then employers will be forced to engage more staff. There would be at least two advantages to this. Not only would unemployment be reduced, but the working conditions of employees on very long shifts would also be significantly improved. For example, a factory employing 300 manual workers doing 10 hours a day might employ 450 workers.

There is also, however, a strong argument not to implement this proposal. This argument is based on economic competitiveness. If a company was forced to employ more workers to produce the same amount of goods, then its wage bill would rise and its products might become more expensive and less competitive compared to companies with longer working weeks. In this case, it is possible that the company either might become insolvent or it would have to make some employees redundant. As a result, the intended benefit to the personnel would not happen.

In summary, we can see that this is clearly a complex issue as there are significant advantages and disadvantages to the proposal. My own personal view is that it would be better not to introduce the shortened working week because it works only in theory and not in practice.

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