The 28-Hour Work Week

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A better work/life balance continues to be a hotly debated topic, as people say they continue to challenged by a 24/7 workplace mentality.

In Germany, one of the largest trade unions’ (IG Metall) is taking aim at this issue. The union has struck a deal with employers to promote a 28-hour working week, vs the standard 35. This would allow seven hours of time for each worker to do with what they would like. They could spend it with family and friends, take up a hobby, another job, or exercise. If and when they wish to return to a 35-hour week, they can.

Covering around 900,000 workers in Baden-Württemberg — Germany’s third-largest state in terms of size and inhabitants, home to several of Germany’s most high-profile industrial groups, including Daimler, the carmaker, and Bosch — the landmark two-year deal will be watched by other countries around the world, according to Monthly Barometer. Their deal also included a pay rise of + 4.3% — well above inflation.

The package will improve workers’ well being as well as bring another level of flexibility to their lives. Widely copied or not, the deal reflects a new mindset amongst younger workers who are happy to trade time off for less pay, to seek a more manageable work/life balance.

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