Without doubt, unemployment is one of the major issues facing Europe today. How do we ensure quality jobs for all, and how do we provide them within the physical limits of our planet? This study, commissioned by the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament and published by GEF for the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament as part of its Green New Deal series, looks at the issue of working time, and asks whether a change to working time could offer a solution to Europe’s unemployment problem.
There are numerous reasons to assess “work” in the context of the Green New Deal. Clearly, a central goal of the sustainable transformation of our economy is to create quality green jobs. However, if we want to ensure prosperity and a decent quality of life for all, within the physical limits of our planet, old recipes will not work.
Working time could play an important role in the system change that is required. Working less is likely to improve the quality of life for all, ensuring a better balance between work and leisure or family time. By giving priority to free time over productivity and consumerism, a collective reduction of working time could promote more sustainable consumption patterns, increase community involvement, and achieve a better distribution of roles between women and men.
This publication addresses the multiple issues that are involved when considering changes to working times. It also looks at some of the challenges when considering this policy instrument. For example, what vocational training is needed to avoid skill shortage; how to finance such changes; and how flexibility should be organised at the micro and macro level in order to ensure collective as well as individual benefits? This publication aims to start a debate on what changes should be introduced to working time in Europe.