work timeIs Luxembourg doing more than its neighbors?
Luxembourg – The debate over the possible abandonment of the 40-hour week in Luxembourg has begun, as well as the battle of characters.
In the pipeline for months, the debate over a possible reduction in working time promises to be a political spotlight in the coming months, with a key question between the lines: Do residents and cross-border workers work more than employees? ? The Grand Duchy is one of the countries where the legal time is higher (40 hours) in contrast to France (35 hours), for example.
But in practice, the number of hours worked throughout the year seems to be more balanced. The average number of hours worked per capita in 2019 is 1506 hours in Luxembourg compared to 1576 hours in Belgium and 1511 hours in France. Only Germany is far behind by 1,382 hours, while the average in OECD countries is 1,593 hours, explains Jean-Baptiste Neve, chief economist at the Chamber of Commerce.
Part-time leave, parental leave, or public holidays affect the amount of work employees do over the course of a year. This number has also decreased by 60 hours between 2007 and 2019.” For the Chamber of Commerce, the observation is clear: the reduction of working time has already begun in practice for several years.
The Department of Labor has provided other numbers based on a 2019 Statec study of the number of hours worked over a year by employees. full time. With 1,701 hours, the Luxembourgers are far ahead of the Germans (1,677 hours), the French (1,545 hours) and the Belgians (1,495 hours). Once in office, George Engel (LSAP) said he supported reducing working hours in order to “better reconcile private and professional life”.
“It is a societal choice. But it will not be without effect. Thus, firms will try to catch up with the fall in the rate of productivity, which will have a negative effect on wages,” explained Mr. Nevitt, who foresaw the risk of “losing purchasing power” and increasing labor shortages. in certain sectors. The economist specified that the current inflationary context is proving to be less favorable “than it was 4 or 5 years ago”.
‘Great societal change’
Thus the Chamber of Commerce states that working time is not one of the “most important problems” facing Luxembourg, according to the Eurobarometer for winter 2021/2022. Housing and inflation came first, but environment and climate change came third.
However, reducing working time would be a strong signal towards a less productive society and ultimately more focused on sustainable development. Minister Engel at least agrees with the Chamber of Commerce on one point: “Reducing working time would be a major societal change.”