# Would 4 day 36 hour work week be highly detrimental to the economy of my country?

I would like to make mandatory 4 day - 36 hours work week in my beloved Wadiya. Friday is part of the weekend, Monday - Thursday 9 working hours per day. That law should apply to all government agencies & private firms, both domestic and foreign ones. The only ones excepted would be domestic workers, mom & pop firms & construction companies (we are behind in building soccer stadiums & FIFA threatens take our cup).

Would the economic effects be highly detrimental of shortening the work week?

• Depends, does everyone need to share the exact same 4 days or can we choose our own? Do the 4 days need to be consecutive? – Mormacil May 28 '17 at 14:53
• I didn't know that France was also called Wadiya. – AlexP May 28 '17 at 18:56
• Great, you've gotten rid of Friday as a workday. Now Thursday has taken its place... – Michael May 28 '17 at 19:39
• How do you measure 'detrimental'? GDP? Standard of Living? Unemployment rate? Annual income? Labor participation rate? Average rent cost? Percent of children in day care? Transit ridership? Traffic loads? Changing average work week length and distribution will affect all of these in different ways. Some you may like, some not...and those might be different from the effects I like. – user535733 May 29 '17 at 3:25
• I think the answers would benefit if you specify everything would work exactly like in the real world on weekends, just for three days instead of two. Some answers sound like we'd all be dead if we had stuff like "weekends". – JollyJoker May 29 '17 at 10:26

## 7 Answers

A personal note, for a couple of years I used to work about 40 hours in 4 days, with 5 hours commute on the first and last day. Those four days I had no real life whatsoever, followed by three days of weekend. I could do it but it wasn't nice.

A 36-hour workweek is entirely feasible

Quite a lot of industrialized countries are worried about the long-term effect as computers displace the workforce from the service sector, just as they have done from industry. Having part of the population in long-term unemployment or McJobs isn't good for society, better use the productivity increase from modern technology to cut everybody a little slack.

A 9-hour workday is also feasible

Plenty of people work that much, for sustained periods. Depending on what they do, the productivity of the 9th hour might not equal the productivity of the 5th or 6th hour ...

# Who gets to work weekends?

So now you have everybody at home from Friday to Sunday, right? Well, they'll expect that bakers are open on Friday and Saturday. And grocers. And barbers. Government offices, too, since employed people can't file their tax forms during the working week.

Pretty soon you have so many exceptions that the "rule" is more of a guideline. It might apply in the industrial sector, but not in the service sector and not in agriculture.

Avoidance Strategies

What happens to web-shops? Are they allowed to be open? Would that mean the big internet business has another edge over local shops? Especially if parcel delivery is allowed to work and the parcels can be prepared abroad.

International complications

It will take some time until foreign business partners get used to the fact that nobody answers the phone for three days in a row. They might take their business elsewhere.

• With personal experience, working everyday for 9 hours is absolutely horrible. It's possible, but horrible. – Ismael Miguel May 28 '17 at 20:20
• "Government offices, too, since employed people can't file their tax forms during the working week." - but that's exactly as it is now, and yet, government offices are generally open only Mon to Fri, and preferably only before 2 PM or so. "Pretty soon you have so many exceptions that the "rule" is more of a guideline." - and isn't that just how it works in some places in the real world, too, with 5/2 work vs. weekend days? "the productivity of the 9th hour might not equal the productivity of the 5th or 6th hour" - but compared to the 8th hour, the difference doesn't seem so large. – O. R. Mapper May 28 '17 at 21:28
• (Addendum to my earlier comment: Concerning the statement that "employed people can't file their tax forms during the working week", it is also a mystery to me why, of all possible interactions with the government, filing tax forms would require an open office that taxpayers have to go to.) – O. R. Mapper May 28 '17 at 22:14
• @Ismael Miguel: I don't think working 9 hour days (or more) is terrible. I'd rather work 4 10-hour days than 5 8-hour ones, because that would save me one day of commuting time. And I really liked the job I once had, where I worked 12-hour (or more) days one week, then had the next week off. – jamesqf May 29 '17 at 17:27
• There is nothing inherently wrong from having a "standard weekend" be 3 days long but with certain industries that stagger their worker's "off days" in order to continue business all week long. Lots of places do this already today, my sister has Wednesdays and Saturdays off, I used to work at a place that did their primary business hours Friday through Sunday (and I typically had Monday/Tuesday off, although it varied from week to week; just because business was closed didn't mean that there wasn't work to do). – Draco18s no longer trusts SE May 30 '17 at 18:40

So yes, 36 hours are not only possible, but given that both Norway and Sweden are both countries with high USD per capita and very low working hours it is also reality.

• @Aladeen There's no reason why you couldn't. – Draco18s no longer trusts SE May 28 '17 at 15:45
• @jamesqf That is a common misconception about Norway. Nearly all countries have natural resources, including the USA. Norway was a socialist country long before North Sea oil was discovered, and their law prohibits them funding more than 15% of their annual government budget from NS oil money; and even then they can't touch the capital, only the earnings from investments. 85% of their programs are funded by high taxation of their businesses and citizens. They are also in the top 10 "happiest countries on Earth" every year. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica May 28 '17 at 18:38
• Note that France has also implemented a en.wikipedia.org/wiki/35-hour_workweek – JollyJoker May 29 '17 at 8:50
• @MartinBonner Sure, 17% is a lot. But if the USA had always held to the principle that all natural resources belong to all of the people, in perpetuity, we'd get that too. e.g. America is the "saudi arabia" of natural gas. That is why I say "All countries have natural resources"; if ours were not effectively given away for private exploitation (for centuries), we'd be better off than they are in terms of investment income per capita, and so would most other countries. Norway's smart approach produces perpetual income from a finite resource; we could have done the same, for centuries. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica May 29 '17 at 10:18
• @Hankrecords Read these: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_Pension_Fund_of_Norway , en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_budgetary_rule , en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_budget_of_Norway , and here: regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/… scroll to "Fiscal Policy Guidelines", about the Budgetary Rule (the actual BR differs some from Wikipedia description). In the State budget 2007; only 12.2% of income came from the oil investment fund. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica May 29 '17 at 15:29

36 hours a week and a 4 day work week would not be detrimental; IF emergency services (and a few others) are provided 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. Fire, ambulance, emergency room, police patrols and traffic law enforcement, various kinds of clean-up (removing car accidents from the road, carrying away murdered bodies or cleaning up crime scenes), and some commercial services like burglary alarm monitoring, security personnel, etc.

I'd even include weather monitoring personnel, and information system workers to ensure communications are intact. [added: also many military missions must have personnel on duty 24/7; like border watch and missile threat detection.]

Both Criminals and the Forces of Nature will work 24/7 whether we like it or not. (and that could be detrimental to your economy.)

• Criminals ... will work 24/7 Another reason I'm glad I'm not a criminal... – Michael May 28 '17 at 19:45
• And the IF list could go on and on. I'd probably start with utilities like power, water, gas, telecoms, garbage disposal, etc. You'd probably want media and transportation as well. And then there are things that are impractical to start and stop daily, so in many cases it would just mean more shifts. – Dan Mašek May 29 '17 at 20:08
• @DanMašek True examples, but garbage disposal? My Garbage, Recycling and Brush collection all come just once a week; those guys could work a 4 day week and I'd never know... – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica May 29 '17 at 21:49
• @Amadeus Depends on where you live. Right now (on the outskirts of a 100k pop city) it's once a week too. When I lived in downtown Prague (1.5M pop), I recall them doing it very late at night, although I don't recall the frequency. Somewhere even denser it would probably be fairly often too. So in most scenarios probably not necessarily 24/7 on this one (although in some parts of the processing cycle it might make sense from industrial perspective -- not an expert on this :D ), but still should be more than the strict limit set by OP. – Dan Mašek May 29 '17 at 22:05
• @DanMašek I think it just takes more employees. Perhaps the OP doesn't mind; but it certainly becomes an economic consequence of the regime: If the collectors cannot drive their route, stopping at every bin, any faster than they already do, the OP has to hire 11.2% more collectors and buy 11.2% more trucks to get the job done by them in 36 hour weeks instead of 40. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica May 29 '17 at 22:16

If you're requiring everyone to work the same hours, one big detrimental effect is that everyone who relies on the previous shift would be unable to do their jobs. The hours when businesses are closed are times are when much of the cleaning, maintenance, repair, shipping, receiving, stocking, and processing goes on. Without that, employees who arrived in the morning would be idle until that work was done, businesses would not be able to function anywhere near capacity, and productivity would plummet.

Another major detrimental effect would be that the entire consumer economy would be shut down. Since all the stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues (such as those soccer stadiums) would only be open while everyone was at work and couldn't go, no one would be able to spend money and all of those businesses would go bankrupt. Travel, transportation, and tourism would also be affected.

Something would need to be done to support all those who previously worked multiple jobs or shifts, or worked nights/weekends because they were going to school or taking care of family. That would significantly impact whatever is in place to care for the poor.

Interestingly, your exemptions of domestic workers, mom & pop firms & construction companies, sound like some of the ones that would be least affected.

You would lose 4 hours of work a week (out of 40, I'm assuming) That is a 10% loss. You would also lose some productivity from the longer work day. Just a guess but I'm assuming another 10% loss.

You indicated that you wished to get rid of Friday as a work day. Does this count for retail? Is it mandated that no one can shop or go to a restaurant over the weekend (or just on Friday).

Also, as opposed to the 6 hour work day seen in some European countries which lend themselves to 2 shifts a day, shopping would be difficult unless you allow half shifts to part time employees to cover hours so that the rest of the workers can get their shopping done.

Many factories wouldn't be able to implement it. Right now it's very common for factories to run 24 hours per day, with 3 rotating 8-hour shifts. (A typical pattern is: 1st shift is 7 am to 3 pm, 2nd shift is 3 pm to 11 pm, and 3rd shift is 11 pm to 7 am). There isn't any feasible way to fit a 9-hour work day into this pattern.

Employers would have to pay more money for same ammount of work. Otherwise is pointless, you would have people with more time but less money, possibly leading to recession.

Could employers afford that ? Depends on country. In countries which have lot of natural resources (Norway is one example), they could certainly afford to give various benefits to workers and employers to keep schema going. Countries who need to compete on international market with their products would have a hard time, because shorter work week would make their products more expensive , therefore less competitive .

• "shorter work week would make their products more expensive, therefore less competitive." That must be why in our world Miele is on the verge of bankruptcy. (Hint, they're not.) While not touting a horn, I'd say Miele is an example of a company that shows why it's worth paying extra: they are literally renowned for the quality of their products as well as their service branch supporting them. Sure, some people just look at the price tag and turn away; but others pay the premium and get something that regularly lasts 2-3x as long. Companies in OP's world could easily do something similar. – a CVn May 29 '17 at 20:15
• @ Michael Kjörling Never heard about that company :P Nevertheless, if they use shorter work week their products are certainly more expensive. That does not automatically means bankruptcy, they could have technological or quality advantage to justify higher prices. But lower expenses and lower prices would certainly help them to capture more market. – rs.29 May 30 '17 at 2:31