Reduction of the working day


October 20, 2021

Reduction of the working day, reduction of the working day or reduction of working time -often assimilated to the distribution of work or redistribution of work-, in relation to paid work, refers to the decrease in working hours in the working day and working week and, by extension, in the calculation of hours worked monthly and annually. When the working days are reduced to a week, there is talk of a reduction in the working week. The reduction of the working day, understood as a form of income distribution, as an element of social welfare and also as a distribution of the shortage of wage labor - as a result of the sustained increase in productivity and unsustainable rates unemployment- has been one of the successes and traditional demand of the political left and the labor movement that materialized in the eight-hour day and opposes the flexibility of the labor market -reduction of labor costs as the only way of future economic growth to distribute wealth through the creation of future employment - a traditional proposal of the political right.

Reduction of the conjunctural working day

Often the concept of reduction of the working day refers to a conjunctural and therefore temporary situation, derived from the rights of the worker, included in the labor legislation of the different countries or a collective agreement, before circumstances occurred (breastfeeding, care of children, care of dependents and others) or by agreements established in the legislation or labor agreements relating to the temporary adjustment of demand or the seasonality of production between employers and workers in order to integrate seasonality , to maintain the employment and to avoid constant dismissals and hirings of conjunctural character.

Reduction of the structural working day

The concept of reduction of the working day or reduction of the structural working day is derived from the interrelation of several factors, among them: the increase of the productivity, the increase of the structural unemployment, the improvement of the conditions of work and existence of a wide middle class that can consume and that constitutes the key of a society of consumption. Associated to the increase of the productivity produces a lower requirement of time of global human work and therefore an important decrease of occupations in all the classic economic sectors: first it affected the primary or agricultural sector - green revolution; then in the secondary or industrial sector and is currently affecting the services sector due to the generalization of telematics and computerization processes; at the moment unemployment does not affect so clearly in the so-called third sector or social economy. David Anisi points out in his book Creators of Scarcity that Keynes already in 1936 associated demand management (demand crisis - overproduction - underconsumption) with the maintenance of full employment and how demographic pressure required increased demand and increased of production for the maintenance of full employment. However, he did not know how to see that the problem of employment was not only associated with demand but also with the increase in productivity which inevitably required a real decrease in working time if full employment was to be maintained. When this decrease in working time does not occur, unresolved structural unemployment is generated, which becomes cyclical unemployment, an indicator of an economic crisis.

Full employment - The golden age 1950-1973

See also: Full employment, Keynesianism, and The great divergenceFor authors such as Paul Krugman, Tony Judt, Angus Maddison, Vicenç Navarro i López and Josep Fontana among others, the so-called golden age of full employment, mainly in the developed Western world, is loc

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