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Working time reduction

Premises

The increased labour productivity in Europe during the period between 1980 and 2000 has led to a reduction in working hours and an increase in leisure. During recession, when industrial output stabilizes or decreases, flexible working time is also a means of maintaining employment through work sharing schemes. In general the key policy intervention used to prevent wide-scale unemployment is a reduction in working hours. These schemes have illustrated that working hours reductions have a positive impact on energy consumption and emissions since free time facilitates both environmentally-friendly mobility requiring less energy, and reduced emissions from household services. More time also allows rational choice and consequently more savings and less waste. Rather than focusing the discussion on the ecological footprint of technologies, it would be interesting to shift attention to the organisation of work. The idea that a reduction in working time is good for the environment is widespread and corroborated by environmental scholars. Data from 18 OECD countries, linking the national ecological footprint with average hours per employee, revealed a significant positive correlation. Other studies estimate that a 1% increase in working hours per worker results in a 1.5% increase in energy use per capita. Environmental gains are accompanied by positive impact on workers’ health, a better balance between family life and work, and improved community relationships and quality of caring.

Priority actions (either in force or to be designed)

  • We agree to give priority to working time reduction and to supporting industrial policy addressed to rethinking of work organisation in favour of shorter working hours.
  • We will promote collective agreements recognising productivity gains reflected in shorter working hours.
  • We will support local public policies encouraging working hours reductions to achieve a triple dividend in terms of employment, energy and emissions.
  • We commit ourselves to increasing part-time jobs, encouraging men to share family responsibilities.
  • We will favour more flexible solutions for older workers during the period before retirement.
  • We will encourage better flexibility in wage and working time schemes, while labour contracts and employment relationships should be strengthened.
  • We will endorse the extension of the working period during the life-cycle while substantially reducing weekly working hours.
  • We will promote identification of opportunities for family care, cultural and political commitment, education and leisure in South Tyrol’s public policy.
  • We will encourage all forms of voluntary civil service in neighbourhoods and in society at large as well as income support for elderly people without decent living conditions.
  • We will promote better partnership of parents in family and household work, in order to ensure more equality in professional life and family work.
  • We will work for a general reduction of working hours per week, year and life-cycle, which brings about less energy consumption in factories and offices and a better quality of life.
/var/www/ecolnet.bz/doc/data/pages/en/gep/art_8.txt · Last modified: 2018/09/09 16:40 (external edit)