Long work day breeds family unhappiness

29th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

29 March 2005, MADRID- The long early afternoon break enjoyed by many Spaniards of makes for a marathon workday that keeps most employees away from home from morning until night and is being blamed for increasing domestic and personal dissatisfaction.

29 March 2005

MADRID- The long early afternoon break enjoyed by many Spaniards of makes for a marathon workday that keeps most employees away from home from morning until night and is being blamed for increasing domestic and personal dissatisfaction.

This stretched-out "lunch hour" and other factors that reduce productivity in Spain are being looked at critically by the National Commission for the Rationalization of Spanish Work Schedules, which, according to its head, Ignacio Buqueras, advocates a continuous workday with "flexible and rational" schedules.

The debate, which continues this week at a new meeting of the commission in Madrid, is intensifying and many groups are interested in promoting among Spaniards the idea of adapting to the work schedules of the rest of Europe.

Buqueras noted how, unlike the majority of its European neighbours, where the workday ends between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., in Spain the day starts between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and does not end until 8:00 p.m., "and that makes it very difficult to have compatible work and family lives."

The conflict over work schedules has spawned a number of publications, such as "Spain on Time," by the Independent Foundation, with which Buqueras is affiliated, and the "Guide to Good Practices for the Flexible Firm," produced by the International Work and Family Centre of the IESE Business School of the University of Navarra.

The different publications and reports agree that there is no reason for the workday to be longer than 10 hours, not counting, in many cases, the commute to and from work.

Many people are questioning the sense of spending two hours at a restaurant partaking in a large meal before returning to work and staying there until late.

The debate over the length of the workday has also been affected by the changes wrought in Spain by the entry of large numbers of women into the labour force.

As a result, when both spouses work long hours, the burden typically falls on the woman, who is usually expected to care for the children and do the household chores.

The International Work and Family Centre identified "incompatible school and work schedules," the "lack of business policies that encourage work-family balance" and "work pressures" as leading problems.

The research team views "flexibility" as key to dealing with the work-family conflict and suggests a series of analyses and changes in the nature of work until the conditions are in place to achieve a "Flexible and Responsible Firm."

According to the IESE guide, companies need to implement "policies that promote harmony between the family and work worlds" as an "essential element for the well-being of societies, organizations and people."

Analysts suggest changes in company policies that require long days at work that do not result in better performance but harm families.

Ignacio Buqueras said longer workdays do not guarantee better results, noting that "Spain's productivity rate is the lowest in Europe."

Another supporter of overhauling work schedules, Tomas Moro Foundation head Claro Fernandez-Carnicero told EFE he was sure the government planned to "promote social debate and convince society that there should be positive change" that serves to get people home more quickly.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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