“Welcome to a new world of work.” A 3-minute animated video with this feel-good title was published on June 18 by the Austrian Economic Chambers (WKO), attempting to sell online audiences on the benefits of (potentially) working 12 hours a day, 5 times a week. The Youtube video uses catchy lyrics and cute human and animal characters to translate the planned flexibilization of working hours into easy-to-understand terms. However, instead of swaying viewers to embrace longer working hours, it has amassed more than eight-thousand dislikes and hundreds of negative comments in just over a day.
The government is currently drafting legislation laying out in detail the nature of the new flexible working arrangements and their effects on overtime pay. In principle, the 8-hour working day will remain the norm. Once flextime is implemented, employees can be asked to work up to 12 hours a day, with the option to decline additional working hours only for “personal reasons.”
While currently this means a lack of child care options or a doctor’s visit, the new law does not specify which reasons will be considered to be more important that company interests. The Social Democrats and the Chamber of Labor have been highly critical of the proposed changes, arguing that this uncertainty only supports a climate where employees will feel obligated to adhere to their employers’ demands or risk losing their job.
NEED TO KNOW
According to the WKO, around half of all employees already work up to 12 hours a day.
WHAT OTHERS SAID
“It’s an untenable work environment when some have more convenient working hours than others.” – Jörg Flecker, labor sociologist