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Time for a rethink on working week

I SUPPOSE when you have a proper job, one in which lives are at stake or at least livelihoods, you might
think to jack it in when it really became too much to bear.

Not so a court stenographer in New York who jeopardised more than two dozen legal hearings by

just not bothering to accurately type up proceedings. In one transcription, the fellow simply wrote: "I hate my job, I hate my job," over and over again. Lawyers have been holding reconstruction hearings to try to repair the damage.

But show me the man without sympathy for the bloke's situation and I will show you a lucky employee indeed.

Daniel Kochanski, the stenographer in question, could do with emigrating to France. Or Sweden.

In France, new labour laws make it illegal for workers in the digital and consultancy sectors to reply to work emails after 6pm. Employers are not allowed to pressure their employees to keep working. The law is in response to the use of smartphones and tablets threatening the country's 35-hour working week.

In Gothenburg, the city council is trialling six-hour workdays, saying after six hours employees are too

tired to be effective. That is a pretty sparkling idea for increasing productivity - I know I always produce more when I have the least time.

But I suppose newspapers are not the right place for strict, restricted working hours, although we could put up signs at newsstands: "The news has stopped. There's no news now, thank you. You've had your news." (Features and sport - you are on your own).

France has the right idea, though.

In the UK we already average more than 42 hours work a week. Smartphones and remote emails make it impossible to compartmentalise

and it is theft, essentially, having your time taken in exchange for nothing. There is no reparation for stolen time. It is a thing that cannot be replaced. "Procrastination is the thief of time," my Higher maths teacher used to bark at us. It is not any more, it's technology. Technology and the office.

Imagine the fruits of decreased working hours, imagine a four-day working week.

At the very least, they should introduce nap times for workers. Beat the 3pm slump in a sleep pod. By the time you woke up it would be nearly home time.

A 35-hour working week by stealth, it would be.

It will never happen though, will it? Actually, stuff Kochanski. I'm moving to France.

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