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Swedes to give six-hour workday a go

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Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Clocking in. File photo: Shutterstock
15:24 CEST+02:00
Municipal staff in Gothenburg will act as guinea pigs in a proposed push for six-hour workdays with full pay, with hopes that it will cut down on sick leave, boost efficiency, and ultimately save Sweden money.
"We think it's time to give this a real shot in Sweden," Mats Pilhem, Left Party deputy mayor of Gothenburg, told The Local. 
He explained that the municipal council would use two different departments - a test group and a control group, in essence. Staff in one section will cut down to six-hour days, while their colleagues in a different section stick to the ordinary forty-hour week.  All employees will be given the same pay.
"We'll compare the two afterwards and see how they differ. We hope to get the staff members taking fewer sick days and feeling better mentally and physically after they've worked shorter days," he said.
Pilhem said he hoped the move would create more jobs, as he had seen evidence that longer shifts entailed less efficiency. In some sectors, such as elderly care, the problem was not staff shortages, he claimed, but people working inefficiently over longer shifts.
He added that a Gothenburg car factory had recently tested the six-hour method and the results were encouraging. 
The opposition in the western city has reacted strongly to the test run. 
Maria Rydén of the Moderates, who also sits on the city council, told the Metro newspaper that the proposal was a "dishonest and populist ploy" with elections just around the corner. She added that she didn't think such a move would have any impact on quality.
But Pilhem said the plan was nothing new. 
"We've worked a long time on this, we've not planned it to be an election thing," he said. "These people are always against shortening hours."
Various parts of Sweden have experimented with shorter working hours before, but the concept has yet to take off. 
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