Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 4 2007, page 26-44.
English resume

Flexible Working Hours in Denmark, Germany, France and the UK

A matter of fl exicurity in macro politics or workplace practices?

Mads Peter Klindt

Flexible working hours (or internal numerical fl exibility), is on the agenda in the EU and OECD where the sirens of fl exibility sound louder than ever. Enhanced fl exibility for the business life seems to be the key approach to tackle the challenges brought on by Globalisation and technological progress. However, in many cases modern wage earners also request for more fl exibility, hence the traditional perception of the confl ict line between employers and labour concerning wages and working conditions might be out of date. So is the case of fl exible working time that constitutes a new ground for labour-management negotiations regarding smarter work planning, productivity enhancement and job satisfaction. This situation opens for new compromises and new deals between the social partners that most thoroughly have been discussed in the literature on Flexicurity that has received widespread attention in many of the EU member states in recent years.
In this article four countries, Denmark, Germany, France, and the UK, are examined. First the article reviews how working time and fl exible working hours have played a role on the political agenda the last couple of decades: How has fl exible working hours been incorporated into the socio-economic discourse, and does the linguification of working time refl ect the Flexicurityparadigm? As is obvious through the review of the countries, working time has been related to quite different economic problems and solutions; from solving unemployment through working time reductions in France to enhancing competitiveness in Germany. Thus, the first impression is that the four countries represent very distinct models regarding work time regulations. As a second task, the article therefore moves to an empirical investigation based on a huge company survey conducted by the European Foundation on how companies apply fl exible working hours and why? In that way, the article provides a clearer picture of what actually is going on in the four countries, an instigates to more moderate descriptions of how working time fl exibility is being applied in the different labour market models.


Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)


 

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