Sunday, September 9, 2012

Kurzarbeit in France's Future

One little-noticed point in Hollande's interview with Claire Chazal was his mention of la possibilité "de recourir au travail partiel en cas de période difficile." In other words, what the Germans call Kurzarbeit, or sharing of available work hours among workers in order to avoid layoffs in hard times. There are multiple ironies here: Sarkozy tried to extend overtime hours by exempting employers from taxes on them, a reform that Hollande has canceled. The Right has blamed the 35-hour week for everything wrong with France from the economy to the decline of the baguette, but now even further working-hour reductions may be deemed necessary in an emergency. And at this point the implementation details remain vague: who will determine when time-sharing is permitted; how will hours and wages be allocated; how might firms adapt?

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