Employment seminar « Working time »

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The seminar « Employment policies – Interactions between economics and law » is chaired by Gilbert This, Associate Professor of Economics at Neoma Business School and Jean-Emmanuel Ray, Emeritus Professor at the Paris I Law School – Sorbonne

Will speak on May 11, 2023, on the theme of « working time »:

  • Marie Bouny – Doctor of Law, Partner, Strategy and Social Innovation, Sia Partners
  • Andrea Garnero- Economist at the OECD, labor market specialist
  • Anne-Florence Quintin – Deputy Secretary General of the CFDT Executives

Working time, per year and per employee, has decreased since the end of the 19th century in Europe, mainly due to changes in the structure of the active population, the labor market, but also measures to regulate working time. France nevertheless continues to stand out from the European average with a lower total volume of hours worked: per year and over the life cycle

While debates have long focused on the duration of full-time work for an employee, particularly in connection with policies to reduce working hours and the 35-hour reform, several developments in the labor market lead to re-examine the regulation working time. On the one hand, the definition of working time is challenged by telework, which makes the boundary between working time and rest time more tenuous, and complicates the control of these two times required by Community law. On the other hand, the development of sectors with specific working hours (personal services with multiple employers and/or very split working hours) can make the application of working time regulations complex, designed within a framework standard wage in the manufacturing plant. In this respect, branch agreements play a major role, and reflect these particularities: their content is very heterogeneous (taking into account travel times, break times, etc.).

At the level of the company, today a reference level in terms of collective bargaining, the organization of working time remains an issue of quality of life at work, a factor of attractiveness to attract employees in a context of tensions. recruitment, and increased attention to work/life balance. Companies are thus experimenting with the 4-day week, and numerous initiatives have been launched in certain European countries. For example, in Belgium, employees can now choose to work full time over four days. In addition, some British companies experimented in June 2022 with a working week reduced to four days while maintaining wages at 100%, without public funding compensating for the reduction in working time. However, everything depends on the maintenance of remuneration, and a possible lowering of the weekly duration. Because the intensification of work over four days poses delicate questions in terms of physical and mental health; but also, where appropriate, childcare or for employee helpers.

From a legal point of view, we can look at the thorny question of the definition of effective working time, in a context of increasing autonomy for some employees (executives on a daily basis) and the development of teleworking, which makes the place more flexible of work but also de facto the schedules. We will consider the desirable – and legally possible – legal developments of the national and/or European framework.

From an economic point of view, we can make an inventory of existing studies on the link between working time and productivity, at the microeconomic and macroeconomic level, as well as between working time and well-being at work. It will be interesting to consider both weekly working time, which most often crystallizes the debates, but also annual, and throughout life. International comparisons and foreign experiences will be particularly useful, as well as an approach by sector to take into account some of their specificity.


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