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Germany: Majority thinks 4-day work week is not a good idea

Timothy Jones
April 25, 2023

More than half of people living in Germany don't believe it makes sense to introduce a four-day working week with full pay. But views on the topic are strongly linked to political affiliations.

Woman's hand on a computer mouse
Most people in Germany seem to prefer the traditional five-day working weekImage: K. Schmitt/Fotostand/picture alliance

A survey found that 55% of people living in Germany do not consider four-day working weeks on full pay to be practical, according to the results published on Tuesday.

The four-day model, as opposed to the five-day work week that is customary in most industrialized countries, has been the subject of many trials in recent times.

Most businesses and organizations that have tested the four-day model have found that it facilitates a better work-life balance and reduces stress among workers.

In Germany, the IG Metall metalworkers' union, Europe's largest trade union, has been among the organizations to propose introducing the model.

What did the survey in Germany find?

The study, conducted by the forsa polling institute for the magazine Stern, showed that residents of Germany's eastern states, which were formerly in the communist German Democratic Republic, were most skeptical about the idea.

Among them, 62% opposed the introduction of a four-day workweek, in contrast to 54% in the western states.

The survey also showed that opinions varied widely among supporters of the different political parties.

People who vote for the environmentalist Green Party were keenest on the four-day model, with 69% in favor and 29% against.

Supporters of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) of Chancellor Olaf Scholz were, however, mostly against the idea, with just 43% backing it and 53% opposing it.

The strongest resistance came from those who favor the neo-liberal Free Democrats (FDP). Here, 76% found the notion of shortening the working week by a day undesirable, with just 25% in favor of having more free time.

In general, those who supported the idea cited the results of trials in other European countries, which showed a reduction of stress levels and an increase in productivity.

Those against were of the opinion that businesses could face financial strain and that the work needing to be done could not necessarily be accomplished if there were fewer hours to complete it.

This article draws on material from the DPA news agency.

Edited by: Darko Janjevic

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