For a long time I thought that the 4-day week was mainly a Western, and particularly European, phenomenon, but clearly there’s more to it than that. I recently wrote about Japanese company Zozo and its 30-hour week, and there are a number of other Japanese companies that offer 10-hour, 4-day weeks for employees.
And of course, some of the most overworked countries in the world are in Asia, and they recognize that the costs are now outweighing the benefits. China shifted to a 5-day workweek in the 1990s, South Korea recently passed legislation limiting the workweek to 52 hours (with very mixed results), and the Japanese have struggled for years with this. So it makes sense that these experiments would be happening in Asian countries, too.
China should experiment with a four-day (36 hours) workweek in large and medium-sized State-owned enterprises in East China from 2020 to 2025, the newly released report said.
From 2025 onwards, a four-day (36 hours) workweek can be implemented in certain industries in the central and eastern regions.
And from 2030 onwards, Chinese people should be able to take three days of rest for every four working days.
However, the China Daily article also notes that the comments on social media haven’t all been positive; in fact, the general reaction has been skeptical. Why is that?
The answer lies in their anxieties about an uncertain future. As capital gets increasingly more accumulated, ordinary workers, blue-collar and white-collar alike, face the sad and cold fact that unemployment is likely to rise. Many people face the risk of losing their jobs to artificial intelligence and automation.
That’s why many people are rather worried about their futures.
To solve this, the key lies in promoting the idea of “rest”. The right to rest and the right to labor must be protected together so that people can be more certain about their future.
Thinking about work and rest together. Now that’s an idea I can get behind.