Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 4 2007, page 26-44.
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might be out of date.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.