Could the Czech Republic See a Four-Day Work Week?

Sweden and France have discussed the possibility; now a group of Czech MPs say it’s time to start the discussion here
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The word “weekend” (víkend) entered the Czech lexicon only within the past couple of decades; the work week during the communist period was generally six days long. The idea of a weekend was primarily a Western concept.

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Czechs work a five-day work week (see more on the ins and outs of the Czech office here). Flexible working arrangements and part-time jobs are still fairly uncommon in the country, though some reports say this is changing.

In recent years, the discussion of a shortened work week or day has been a hot topic throughout Europe.

In 2014, the Swedish city of Gothenberg announced that it would launch a pilot program in one of the city’s elderly-care homes that would shorten the traditional working day of its nurses to six hours.

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Now, at the close of that two-year trial period, the city has determined that the costs outweigh the benefits.

Despite the failure of the Gothenberg experiement, French politicians have been considering a shortened work week, too: Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon recently vowed to scrap the 35-hour work week.

Could the Czech Republic be the next country to attempt to shorten the work week? Perhaps, if the Czech political party TOP 09 has its way.

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The party recently released a thirty-year outlook for the Czech Republic meant to “promote the interests of the growing middle class,” according to chairman Miroslav Kalousek.

MP Markéta Adamová acknowledged that a four-day work week could be a reality for the Czech Republic in the relatively near future.

“But this is assuming that our economy transitions from an industry-oriented one to one focused on added-value, ideas, and experience and does not just remain an assembly-based economy like now,” she told reporters.

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For his part, chairman Kalousek recalled the work week changing from five to six days during his childhood and said that, given the advances in digitalization and robotics, productivity could increase enough to allow for a gradual transition to a four-day work week.


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