We have written often about federal and state wage laws employers are required to follow. They can be complicated to say the least.
Well, what if you were required to pay your employees the equivalent of an eight hour wage to work just six hours a day?
Sounds crazy – right?
Believe it or not, a number of European businesses are seriously exploring this idea.
Experimentation with this approach appears to have started in Sweden in 2002 where workers at a Toyota service center in Gothenburg were first asked to work six-hour shifts for eight hours of pay. The experiment apparently went well because the service center continues the practice to this day.
In 2015, an elder care center, also in Gothenburg, Sweden, conducted a research study comparing the productivity of one set of nurses working six hours for eight hours of pay to a group paid eight hours to work eight hours. According the New York Times, the post experiment audit “concluded that the program in its first year had sharply reduced absenteeism, and improved productivity and worker health.”
We know what you’re thinking… Sweden has a socialist economy – so naturally they would experiment with reducing hours while maintaining pay levels.
True. But some companies claim the idea has in fact improved productivity.
Brath – a Swedish tech company – conducted the six-hour experiment and concluded: “we get more done in six hours than comparable companies do in eight. … We believe nobody can be creative and productive in eight hours straight. Six hours is more reasonable…”
Could this idea spread to other nations?
A 2016 survey of over 500 business decision makers in the U.K. found that 60% of employers would consider offering a six-hour workday if it was found to lift productivity… and 100% of HR professionals in the same survey said they would consider it.
According to a number of HR professionals – the idea is catching on like wildfire across Europe… but are the results of reducing hours all positive?
Some employers say no – and admit that to complete projects on-time, supplemental workers have been required. Even some of the workers interviewed following these experiments admit it was difficult getting all of their work done in just six hours.
Might this spread to the U.S.?
It is fair to say that employers and workers in the U.S. have very different attitudes towards work and leisure time… Many U.S. workers see long hours as a path to higher wages and career advancement. But only time will tell.
For now – just keeping abreast of the new overtime rules and other wage requirements is enough to keep employers hopping.
If you are an employer and find yourself at any time struggling to understand the laws regarding employee compensation, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing, and one thing alone – we are a Connecticut employer defense law firm – we work to protect and defend the interests of employers throughout the region. What’s more, each of our Connecticut attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment law and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
Photo credit: Seth W. via Decorators Guru / CC BY-SA
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