February 21. 2024. 8:36

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Finland puts four-day workweek back on political agenda

Promising results from a four-day workweek trial in the UK revived the debate in Finland ahead of the April elections.

In the UK pilot promoted by 4 Day Week Global, nearly 3000 employees in 61 companies trialed a 32-hour working week. After six months, 39% said they were less stressed, 40% slept better, and 54% found a better work-life balance.

The political left in Finland wasted no time picking up the results and including them in the ongoing election campaign. There was an “I told you so” mood within the social democratic party as their leader, Prime Minister Sanna Marin, first brought up the idea in 2019.

While the topic was shot down in 2019, the UK gave the idea new life.

For instance, the Vice Chair of SDP, Matias Mäkynen suggested a wide survey of a four-day week during the next parliamentary term. To give it more weight, Mäkynen referred to surveys showing that work burnout and malaise have become a national disease.

Support also came from the Chair of the Left Alliance, Li Andersson.

“Awesome! The results from the UK trial have been revolutionary [..] Maybe the debate over working life in Finland slowly becomes more modern,” tweeted Andersson.

In its statement, the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) suggested a trial of an 80% work-time.

Reactions from the political right were quite the opposite, however.

An MP for the liberal-conservative National Coalition Party (NCP), Arto Satonen described the idea as ”absurd”. Work time should be increased, not decreased, since companies already suffer from labour shortages. The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) also delivered a similar statement.

To satisfy all parties, the Economic Affairs and Employment Ministry announced that it will by the end of March find out the best way to carry out trials on shortened working hours.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)