When the baby boomers reach retirement age, there could be shortages of labor and pensions. Against this background, Siegfried Russwurm, President of the Federation of German Industries, brought the 42-hour week into play at the weekend. DGB board member Anja Piel explained on Monday: “Longer working hours – whether during the week or at the end of working life – are just cheap sham solutions for old-age security.”
The United Services Union (Verdi) added via Twitter, the most effective measures against the shortage of skilled workers start with better working and training conditions. “In this way, new specialists can follow and experienced staff can stay in their profession.”
“Easier to enforce more weekly hours politically”
“I personally have great sympathy for an optional increase in weekly working hours – of course with full wage compensation,” said Russwurm of the Funke media group on Saturday. “A 42-hour week would certainly be easier to implement than a general introduction of pensions at 70.”
Russwurm took up an idea that Michael Hüther, director of the employer-related Institute of German Economics (IW), had also communicated to the Funke media group and Deutschlandfunk Kultur two weeks earlier. At the end of the decade, 4.2 billion working hours would be missing in Germany. While he was in favor of a 42-hour week as standard working time, he also thought it would be politically difficult to raise the retirement age.
41 hours per week
“Of course, the hours are paid – it’s not about cutting wages through the back door,” Hüther explained. In Switzerland, two hours more are worked per week than in Germany, and in Sweden one hour more. If that were added up, then by 2030 the demographically induced loss of work volume would be compensated.
A 42-hour week was in the Federal Republic for a while for civil servants in some federal states. In 2019, the average weekly working time in Germany for full-time employees was 41 hours. Including the part-time workers, who work an average of 19.5 hours, the average weekly working time was 34.8 hours according to figures from the Federal Statistical Office.
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