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Legislators Explore Alternative in a Six-Hour Workday

By Anamary Olivas | Wed, 08/17/2022 - 18:00

Mexico’s Congress is exploring a new initiative of a six-hour workday, with the aim to improve employee wellbeing and happiness, as well as productivity. The proposal consists in reducing the legal maximum of the weekly working hours from 48 to 36 hours. Nevertheless, experts feel that the current economic environment is not favoring such sweeping changes.

 

The four-day workweek has been tested frequently across the world and has even been permanently adopted by several companies, after trials demonstrated the benefits for both employee and employer. Nevertheless, some organizations remain opposed to this innovative schedule, since in some industries one simply cannot take workdays off due to production and scheduling issues.

 

The initiative promoted by MORENA Senator Ricardo Velázquez seeks to guarantee decent working conditions in Mexico through a reduction in working hours. “In the case of Sweden, where this project was implemented on an experimental basis, the population of the country declared that there was a lower need for sick leave, therefore yielding better health conditions and increasing productivity by more than double to boot. In this case, given that the working day is shorter, the workers dedicated themselves fully to their activities, without slacking off,” Velázquez argued.

 

The traditional 8-hour workday, stipulated in Article 61 of Mexico’s Federal Labor Law, dates back to the Industrial Revolution. This specific amount of time was based on the idea that the 24 hours in a day could be split evenly into three parts necessary for people’s lives: eight hours of labor, eight hours of recreation and eight hours of rest. However, recent studies show that productivity starts to decline after about 5 hours of work, hence leading to renewed, modern approaches to the work schedule.

 

Mexico is among the countries that have the longest work weeks in terms of hours within Latin America. The National Survey of Occupation and Employment (ENOE) reported a growth of more than 500,000 in people that work more than 48 hours per week during June 2022.

 

With the proposal being turned over to the Senate’s Labor and Social Welfare Commission for analysis, this opens a conversation whether it is possible to implement a shorter workweek in Mexico or if the predominant hard-working culture turns out to be too stubborn to beat. Nevertheless, some experts feel the timing is off, as the rising inflation and an unpredictable economic environment seem to be taking the center stage at the moment.

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Anamary Olivas Anamary Olivas Journalist & Industry Analyst