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January 16, 2003
French Workers Stress over 35-Hour Workweek
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some, a shorter workweek doesn't necessarily mean less stress. Just ask the French.

When France adopted a 35-hour workweek in 2000, the law was an effort to combat high unemployment, nearing 13 percent, and give its citizens more leisure time, the New York Times reports. However, many French workers tell the newspaper that the shortened workweek makes them work too hard.

"If you cut the hours without increasing the work force, everybody has to work harder," says Jean-Paul Rouillac, a postal employee.

The Times reports that the unemployment rate in France has declined since 2000, from 13 percent to 9 percent. The French government attributes some of the drop to its law for a 35-hour workweek. The government also paid hundreds of millions dollars to subsidize new jobs, the Times reports.

Although the country has performed better economically than many neighboring countries in the past few years, some economists believe the law will hurt corporate profits and government revenues in the long run, the Times reports.

"I think it could hurt French competitiveness," an economist tells the newspaper.

While some may complain about working too hard, they don't believe the law will be repealed in the near future, the Times reports. One reason for this is the French work culture.

"My life doesn't revolve around money," a nurse who will have 58 vacation days this year tells the newspaper. "I am more interested in having more time to do what I want."

A contracted schedule and lack of additional staff mean that employees must finish job duties in a shorter period of time, workers tell the Times. What does this mean to a French worker?

"I'm more tired than I was before ,"one worker tells the newspaper. He says he spends the additional time off sleeping.

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