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The 40 Hour Vs 30 Hour Work Week Debate – Analyzing the Swedish Experiment On Reduced Work Hours

The US department of Labor has set a 40 hour work week law. If an employee works over the 40 hour limit set, the employer has to pay for the overtime worked to them. Over the years many people have questioned the efficiency and productivity of this 40 hour work week. Working every day for 8 hours can really take a toll on one’s mental and physical health.

John Hicks, a British Economist had earlier once pointed out that most of the times employers fail to realize that shortened hours won’t affect productivity. A study from Stanford University in 2014 also confirms that and stating there is a certain threshold when it comes to hours and below that particular threshold hours can be proportional to the output. But once the threshold is crossed, output is bound to decline rapidly.

In Sweden, they have already set out to try the 30 hour work week as an experiment, where they have 6 hours of work per day as compared to 8 hours. The results have shown that productivity has certainly increased with the reduced office time. But say if, one wants to implement the same thing in the US, will it be efficient? There are certainly concerns about the expenses and so on. Therefore we have decided to look deep into the Swedish experiment to answer some concerns regarding the implementation of this.

The experiment was highly controlled, where nurses for over a year at the Svartedalens retirement home worked five hours a day, on the same salary received when working 8 hours. The results were later on compared to that of a control group.

The experiment showed that the nurses at Svartedalens took less sick leaves as opposed to the control group and were to take time off 2.8 times less than the control group. It also showed that the nurses at Svartedalens were far happier at work as compared to others, with more energy. The patients felt more cared for and the employees also reported to feeling healthier as well according to the reporting of a Dutch newspaper.

However, there were certain cost issues that did come up. The two year long experiment which recently came to an end, was providing to be more costly; the retirement home had to hire more nurses to fill in for the day. Thus the tax payers had to bear the burden for these as the recruitment of new staff added about 12 million kroner in costs. One of the main reasons for an increase in the costs was reported due to the less number of sick leaves and time off taken.

Alma Reed is an author and researcher dedicated to enhancing productivity. He is deeply interested in areas like time management, increasing productivity, and fostering healthy routines. Through his writing, he aims to assist people in boosting their job performance and attaining an ideal balance between work and life.

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