Trial for Shorter Work Week In Iceland Dubbed Success

A long-running trial of a shorter working week in Iceland has been hailed an “overwhelming success," as the vast majority of the mid-Atlantic country’s workers have since secured contracts to shorten their hours.

A report analyzing the impact of the trial found that by June 2021 some 170,200 union members from Iceland’s working population of 196,700 were now covered by shorter working hour contracts.

This means that 86% of workers were now either on shorter hour contracts or had "new mechanisms made available to them through which they can negotiate shorter hours in their workplace," according the report, published Sunday.

Iceland ran two large-scale trials between 2015 and 2019, cutting working weeks to between 35 and 36 hours from a 40 hour-week for many, with no reduction in pay. The trials, which eventually included 2,500 workers, were initiated by the council in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik and the country’s national government.

The trials included normal 9-5 workers, as well as those on non-standard shift patterns, and took place in a range of workplaces such as offices, playschools, social service providers and hospitals.

Following the trial, Icelandic trade unions and their confederations secured permanent reductions in working hours for tens of thousands of members across the country.

Analysis of the results found that a reduction of working hours actually maintained or increased productivity.