Denmark’s course for 30-hour working week causing concern

Danes working full-time only spend 31.2 hours per week on the job

The official full-time working week in Denmark is 37 hours, but figures from the national statistics office Danmarks Statistik show that Danes working full-time actually only spend 31.2 hours on the job, Børsen reports.

Uffe Ellebæk, the party leader of Alternativet, has made headlines by calling for a 30-hour working week, but the figures suggest Denmark is already heading in that direction.

Over the past decade, the number of hours actually worked by Danes has fallen by one hour per week, which means that if the current trend continues, in ten more years the 30-hour working week will become a reality.

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Cause for concern
But the tendency is concerning some economists and politicians. Torben Tranæs, the director of research at the national centre for social research (SFI), told Børsen that he and his colleagues had been expecting the fall to slow down.

“The fall in working hours has continued, and we continue to be surprised that the tendency continues year after year,” he said.

“We have had crises and we expected the fall in working hours to have begun to slow down. It hasn’t so far. We continue to get more material wealth and more free time.”

The fall of one working hour per week in the past decade is the equivalent of 41,000 jobs, and the labour market organisation Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd (AE) calculates this equates to 30.5 billion kroner for the public purse.

Sofie Carsten Nielsen, the education minister, suggests the problem is motivating people to work more.

“It’s obvious that if we don’t get more in work, and if those who want to work more don’t do it because of the high marginal tax rate, then future tax revenue for our welfare will be smaller in the future,” she said.