's famous labour law, that mandated a 35 hour work week for all employees (including manager
s). It was implemented on 1 February 2000
, when previously the French worked a 39 hour week. Some flexibility is permitted, but the law states that a worker's annual hours cannot exceed 1600 hours, and no more than 48 hours in any one week. Americans
by contrast work an average of over 2100 hours a year.
So, any lucky Frenchman could work just under nine hours a day, and enjoy three day weekends and seven weeks of paid holidays, or work whatever combination of hours they could negotiate with their employers. They could go clubbing on Tuesday night and turn up to work sober on Wednesday afternoon. Or enjoy a very long summer holiday (and hope that somebody is looking after Granny in her un-airconditioned Grenoble apartment).
Commentators thought that it would end in disaster, but there have been considerable economic benefits. France has seen a boom in leisure industries as people have more time to waste, while businesses have been forced to eliminate inefficient work practices. However, some businesses have moved their businesses over the Channel to London, where labour laws are largely deregulated for white collar workers.
The name comes from the French labour minister at the time the law was introduced, Martine Aubry.