Labour calls for four-day working week to become the norm

Martijn van damThe standard working week in the Netherlands should be cut from five days to four days of nine hours, according to the Labour party (PvdA)

MP Martijn van Dam says in Saturday’s AD that a four-day week would free up people to do ‘other important things’. In particular, many young mothers suffer from burn-out, Van Dam said

‘They work and do all the other things our mothers did but who did not have a job, because their menfolk work full-time,’ he said. One in three women cut their hours when they have children compared with just one in 20 men, he told the paper.

To make sure everyone can work four days a week, the standard number of hours in many pay deals should be cut from 40 to 36. Then people can work four nine-hour days, he told the paper.

‘Change will involve costs for employers,’ he said. ‘But the government can use the tax system to ensure people retain more of their income and that employer costs are cut.’

Van Dam, who is the deputy leader of the Labour party in parliament, said he did not favour forcing people to work four days. However, there needs to be a cultural shift so that men become used to cutting their working week, he said.

Labour’s social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher has already taken steps towards this by making childcare cheaper and increasing paternity leave from two to five days, Van Dam said.

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