There’s been quite the talk around the world about the Finnish government reducing work time for full-time employees to four days a week up to six hours per day. And the international media has flamed the news on different news outlets across the United States, Britain, the Middle East, South East Asia, and Australia, but is it actually true? The truth behind the matter tells a completely different story.
Most newspaper outlets claimed that on Monday, the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin stated that there will be shorter workweeks in Finland. However, the notion is not entirely true as it was later revealed by government spokeswoman Paivi Anttikoski that she merely suggested the idea. She held a view that someday Finland is going to follow a four-day, six-hour work week routine in the future.
She expressed the idea during a brief at the panel discussion held last year in August where she voiced her support to push the initiative forward. At the moment, she was the minister of transport.
This news has been confirmed by spokeswoman Paivi Anttikoski.
Neither does the five-party coalition government which Marin leads states anything in her agenda nor does her Cabinet mentions anything as such regarding the shorter corporate work week proposal.
How Did it All Start?
The inaccurate information on the shorter workweeks started circulating the market in the month of Jan. An article got published on one of the renowned news website (New Europe) a Brussels newspaper which revealed that Marin raised the issue of a six hours a day, four-day workweek prior to securing her place as the prime minister in the government cabinet of Finland.
But that’s just about how much she revealed as she didn’t choose to discuss it any further.
For those of you who don’t know Sanna Marin, she’s the world’s youngest sitting prime minister who aims to implement shorter workweeks. She hasn’t implemented them yet but it is one of her goals.
On discussing the matter with the New Europe news outlet, she said:
“I believe people deserve to spend more time with their families, loved ones, hobbies and other aspects of life, such as culture, this could be the next step for us in working life.”
Right after the statement was spoken, Zoi Didili published a news report claiming that Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin urged the government to change the working hours from 8 to 6 and working days from 5 to 4 per week. Zoi Didili later explained The Associated Press on the very next day, the translation from the original Finnish news sources had a few details wrong. In fact, the published report was readily revised later on.
In her defence, she said:
“The basis of the story was that we wanted to see whether the Finnish prime minister would uphold her earlier views. This time we fell into the trap of not cross-checking this information properly,”
She further concluded,
“We’ve been very alerted to the fact that so many news outlets reported the story without checking it from original sources, ”
At the time when the statement was issued by Marin, she was serving as the vice chairwoman of Finland’s ruling Social Democratic Party and minister of transport and communications in the Cabinet.
At the time, the Social Democratic Movement played a significant role in supporting Finland’s industrial history. There is a higher probability that Marin made such a statement in the light of protecting the right of employees so they can have a chance to spend more time with the family.
When the panel discussion was held, she presented a myriad of utopias among which one was the idea of cutting down work hours to 6 and working days to 4 which she hoped to see turn into reality. In a city accommodating 5.5 million people, such a radical change will take its time to have an effect.
Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat later revealed the correct statement which was posed as a question:
“Is the 8-hour working day the definite truth? I think people deserve to spend more time with their families and their loved ones, hobbies and culture activities. This could be the next step for us in the work-life,”
Though Marin still backed up to what she believed and said,
“A four-day working week or a six-hour working day with a sufficient pay maybe utopia today, but it may become reality in the future,”
It’s not the first time Finland has taken bold steps in different productive facets of the country. It has made significant contributions in many areas including education and labour. In 2017, Finland’s then-Prime Minister Juha Sipila created a two-year trial program to provide monetary benefits to chosen unemployed individuals. They were paid around 560 euros ($624) every month for two years.
The assessment concluded in 2019. It did contribute to the people’s well being but didn’t increase employment. Was the article informative? Did you have a good time reading it? Let us know below.