Now, Chile all set to reduce working hours to 40 hours a week

Now, Chile all set to reduce working hours to 40 hours a week

The government of Chilean President Gabriel Boric said on Tuesday that it has revived efforts to pass a bill that would reduce working hours in the country and fulfill a campaign promise.

The bill, which aims to reduce the working week from 45 to 40 hours within five years, has been stalled in Congress since it was introduced in 2017 by then-lawmaker and current government spokesperson Camila Vallejo.

‘Urgency’ to bill

Boric has given “urgency” to the bill, a provision in Chile’s constitution that forces lawmakers to consider a bill when mandated by the president, reports Reuters.

Also read: TN’s primary health doctors cry foul over longer work hours

Lawmakers will debate a series of changes to the bill made by Boric’s government, including a revision extending the reduction in working hours to workers in special categories, such as public transport drivers and domestic workers.

“These improvements are essential to bringing us closer to a new Chile, one that is fairer,” Boric said during a ceremony on Tuesday at the presidential palace.

Dialogue with unions, worker’s federations

The centre-left government has promoted dialogue with unions and worker federations along with representatives from small, medium and large companies at a time when the economy of the world’s largest copper producer is slowing down and faces strong inflationary pressures after a rapid post-pandemic recovery.

Boric said his government expected the bill to be voted on and approved as soon as possible by both legislative houses.

Currently, working weeks in Chile are 45 hours, some of the longest in the world. Employers have the right to extend the employee’s workday by a maximum of two hours, capped at ten additional hours weekly. Maximum working hours are not applicable to managers, employees with power to manage, administrators, directors, and those who work without direct supervision, such as from home or another location.

Any work beyond the standard 9 hours daily, or 45 hours weekly, is seen as overtime and must be paid at 150 per cent of the employee’s regular pay. However, managers, administrators, directors, and those working from home are not entitled to overtime.

Benefits of fewer hours

According to several types of research, one of the major benefits of working fewer hours per week is that it improves productivity. People work more efficiently when they put in fewer hours and less efficiently when they put in more.

Reduced working hours, according to a 2021 study that tracked Swedish employees for a decade, decreased stress, tiredness and bad feeling. A smaller work week has been chosen by certain nations in order to maintain a balance between work and life, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries.

The Netherlands, with a reported 29.5 hours per week, is the nation with the lowest work-week, according to the OECD. The US extends the work-week to 38.7 hours, which is just under the required 40 hours.

India also intends to make some significant adjustments to the new labour laws. The Centre is considering operating on four instead of five working days.

Also read: Growing trend of long working hours a killer, says WHO, ILO study

Four-day work weeks have so far become commonplace in nations like Belgium, Iceland, Sweden, and start-ups in Germany. Unilever, a global leader in consumer goods, is currently testing a four-day work-week with full pay in New Zealand. The four-day work week is also being tested in Scotland, with the state providing roughly £10 million in financial assistance to participating businesses.

(With agency inputs)

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