The art of working less, thanks to public policies

News 14 February, 2018
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    Evelyne Couturier

    Wednesday, 14 February 2018 11:09

    Wednesday, 14 February 2018 11:32

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    Labour standards in Quebec are in need of a good blow-dusting. Adopted in 1979 (and implemented in 1980), the labour Code has undergone two major revisions : one in 1990 and another in 2002. It is more than 15 years, we live with the same rules surrounding the work, even if it (and the life that surrounds it) has changed. We had to have a new version last year, but in the end, the exercise has been postponed and it is in the month of march we should see the results. Unless, of course, that the imminent elections to change again the calendar.

    First, we work more. Between 1986 and 2010, we note that the Québécois·es working more collectively. It is estimated that the average working time increased from 4 hours per week. If this is explained in large part by the growing presence of women on the labour market, it should not be overlooked, either, the more long weeks of work. But, the amount of time we spend there is not any. When you add in the travel time to get to work, and then to return to the house, it is estimated that the weeks professional average of 50 hours. The situation is worse for families. In all, when one takes into consideration the, work, transportation and household tasks, parents have one hour less per day to devote to the activity of their choice.

    This does not prevent some politicians, such as Simon Jolin-Barrette of the CAQ, to dream, to work weeks of 60 hours. The latter believes that it should promote those who really long hours at the office. However, this is contrary to the science. In fact, if we can have the impression to be a good employee or a colleague’s performance by extending his day at the office, this results in a work that is often of less good quality. In some cases, it might even put her life (and those of others) in danger. In fact, long hours affect our level of alert and can lead us to commit more errors. Within the navy of the united states, many accidents can be associated with a culture that discourages sleep by associating it with an activity that’s not productive. Add to this, that in addition to undermining their health and endanger their lives and the lives of others, the people who do long hours are those who are less satisfied with their family life.

    So this is not a model to encourage. On the contrary, we see more and more people lay claim to a better balance between the different fields of our lives. We want to be an excellent colleague, but also a nice joint, a friend in full bloom, a committed citizen. It is in this direction that should go the recasting of labour standards. It should, of course, better protect workers, and workers on strike, support strongly the placement agencies, but it should also give you access to more time and recognize the importance of taking care of himself, his family and his community. It would be surprising that they should act in this direction, but we started to dream to work weeks shortened, which shares best of his or her tasks. More predictable, it is expected that the new labour Code adds a minimum of two days of paid sick. This is limited, but it is a start. It is also with great disappointment that we learnt recently that the government went back on its proposal to extend the weeks of vacation. Thin consolation, three weeks of vacation shall take effect after three years of service with the same employer, rather than after five years.

    But, much remains to be done, particularly in our report the same at work and other. If the leave of parenthood have allowed for a better distribution of household tasks, the gap remains. To this must be added the expenses mental and emotional, still mainly conducted by women. This double (triple, quadruple) task is added to the increase of the time of paid work, without that it can be recognised at its fair value. It is therefore necessary to reduce the pressure on the time spent at work, but at home also. Give more time to all and all would be a major step in this direction. Unfortunately, the current government seems more interested in the economy than the people who bring it to life…