German professor: more working hours, fewer holidays

This is not a good year to talk about pay rises.  Disappointing research conclusions

Germans should work more hours, says Michael Huether, head of the Institute of German Economy (IW). It suggests, among others: reducing the number of days off.

In Poland, talks about a four-day working week are gaining momentum. Although it is not known whether this will be done by changing the regulations, which is opposed by entrepreneurs, or whether employers will simply limit the number of working hours under some pressure while maintaining the current remuneration.

German professor: we work too short

Over 80 percent inhabitants of Poland work more than 40 hours weekly. For comparison, in the Netherlands as much as 45.6 percent. of the population works less than 35 hours, and 23.3 percent below 25. The Dutch devote an average of 33.2 hours to professional duties, which gives them the title of the least busy nation in the European Union. Just behind the Netherlands were Germany (35.3 hours), Denmark (35.4 hours) and Austria (36 hours). Greeks are the busiest: they spend 41 hours at work. The next places are taken by Poland, Romania, Bulgaria (an average of 40.2 hours a week is worked there) and Portugal (39.9 hours).

We would like to be like Germany, but it turns out that our neighbors may bring economic problems upon themselves if they do not devote more time to work. At least that's what one of the leading economists, the head of the Institute of German Economy (IW), Michael Huether, thinks.

– We should be talking not about how to work less, but how to work more – Huether said in an interview with the weekly “Der Spiegel”, and his statement was quoted by Deutsche Welle. – In Germany, we will have a shortfall of around 4.2 billion working hours by the end of the decade due to an aging population, even if I assume that there will be a net migration of 200,000 workers every year, he added.

He cited Switzerland as an example, where people work 100 hours more per year than in Germany, taking into account all employees. On average, people in Switzerland work two hours more per week than people in Germany.

Shorter uptime: yes, but it comes at a price

– However, as an economist, I am only interested in the total number – Huether emphasized. In my opinion, the issue of leave could also be regulated differently or a few public holidays could be deleted, he suggested.

As an example, he gave the November Day of Prayer and Penance, which in 1995 ceased to be a public holiday throughout Germany. The purpose of abolishing this day off was to finance long-term care insurance. – More working hours are possible if you want it – said the economist.

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