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Less working - less money: will the working week be cut?
5 May, 16:38
Economy
Less working - less money: will the working week be cut?
Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Labor and Social Policy Yaroslav Nilov said that the transition in Russia to a four-day work week is a matter of the near future.

According to him, some enterprises of the country are already working in this format. How can the transition to a 4-day workday affect the country's economy and workers?

Irina Mishina

Dmitry Medvedev was the first to raise the issue of switching to a four-day work week back in 2019, when he was Prime Minister. This happened during his speech at the session of the International Labor Organization in Geneva.

“Employers will have to take into account the interests of their employees more and more. It is very likely that the future lies with a four-day working week... The constant pursuit of success turns into systemic fatigue, chronic stress. People sometimes just burn out at work. All this leads to a decrease in labor productivity, which, in turn, affects economic indicators, ”Dmitry Medvedev said then.

And already on October 1, 2019, the Ministry of Labor sent a report to the government on the introduction of a four-day work week in the future. But they reacted to this initiative rather cautiously. “During the discussion, it was revealed that a sharp mandatory reduction in the length of the working week carries risks, but at the same time has positive aspects. Thus, a reduction in the length of the working week can, for example, lead to an increase in labor costs, as well as the cost of production,” the Ministry of Labor concluded.

But Dmitry Anatolyevich insisted on his own. According to him, a 4-day work week has been introduced in a number of countries as an experimental model. “We all understand very well that a person must recover, that three days off are better than two, you will agree", - the deputy chairman of the Security Council assured.

Medvedev with his initiative was unexpectedly heard in the UAE: they decided that the working week would begin on Monday and end at noon on Friday. Also on Friday in the United Arab Emirates, you can even work remotely. By the way, in most Arab countries, working days are from Sunday to Thursday, and Friday and Saturday, as a rule, days off.

In some countries, the four-day work week actually exists. So, in the Netherlands, the working week lasts only 29 hours, which corresponds to four days. In Denmark, the working week is 33 hours. In general, all Scandinavian countries have adopted a fairly flexible work schedule and five weeks of paid leave per year. In addition, employees are protected by the provisions of the law, which, for example, require the employer to pay compensation after dismissal within two years. Norway also only works 33 hours a week. In this country, young parents are also allowed to reduce the number of working hours. In addition, there, within a year after the birth of a child, the mother receives a full salary. And in general, part-time work in Norway is quite normal, it is customary to go home from work no later than 4 pm. They work a little more in Australia - 34 hours a week. And the state guarantees Australian workers social protection no worse than in Europe - even those who work part-time are entitled to a full vacation.

However, Russian economists do not share the joy of politicians from plans to switch to a 4-day period. “From my point of view, the transition to a four-day week is nonsense. Because in proportion to the reduction of working hours, earnings will also decrease. There is another option: earnings will remain the same with a reduction in the working week, but at the same time total ruin, business closures, unemployment and poverty will begin”, - Rostislav Kapelyushnikov, Doctor of Economics, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told NI.

In the meantime, opinions have already appeared on social networks that the transition to a four-day work is such a special tricky way to justify unemployment. Is it really?

“Today, unemployment in Russia is 4.1%. This is a record low figure in the history of the Russian Federation. And this is certainly an achievement in the context of an aging population and a progressive reduction in the workforce. In general, the labor market in Russia has always reacted to all crises in a peculiar way, stabilizing employment. There is another subtext in the transition to a four-day work week - a reduction in wages. But this will happen rather differently: in the conditions of the expected 20-30% inflation, if wages are not indexed, real wages will automatically decrease. And it makes no sense for the employer to get rid of cheap labor. In the State Duma, they advocate for a four-day period from illiteracy. If this happens, we will all have to pay”, - says Rostislav Kapelyushnikov, Doctor of Economics, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Assurances that the transition to a four-day work week wages will remain unchanged, economists refute.

“The economy is now in semi-free fall. Labor productivity is falling. Do we want her to fall some more? There is a misconception that there is a fixed amount of labor. That is, if you work 7 days a week, this volume will be divided by 7, if you work 4 days a week, it will be divided by 4, and thus the “pie” will not change. But in reality there is no fixed amount of work. If the number of working days is reduced, no one will pay more for each day worked. In 4 working days, less product will be produced, therefore, income will fall and wages will decrease”, - Vladimir Gimpelson, director of the HSE Center for Labor Research, told NI.

To our question, what is the reason for the proposal of the deputies to switch to a four-day working week, Vladimir Gimpelson answered simply: “Everything is falling down, so they offer it anyway. And also to distract from pressing worries. It's about anything but the economy".