France Opts For Sanity

For years, the 35 hour workweek has served to hold France back economically. But now, modest steps are being taken to change all of that:

The French Senate has voted to allow employers to opt out of the country’s 35-hour workweek, a significant change to an employment law much loved by French workers.

The measure passed the Senate on Wednesday night. Support came from the UMP party of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has aimed to make working time more flexible, and the New Center party, Le Monde newspaper reported.

The Socialists and Greens voted against the measure, the paper reported.

The vote retains France’s 35-hour workweek but gives employers new powers to decide for their companies how long the workweek will last.

The bill is not perfect; it only allows employees to work up to 48 hours in a given week, including overtime. The maximum number of days per year the French worker is allowed to pursue his/her profession or trade is increased to 235 but that is a somewhat minor increase–it was 218 days prior to the bill.

Still, this is a good start towards economic sanity on the part of the French. Maybe at long last, we are seeing the start of something interesting and positive in France.