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Leonid Bershidsky

France's 35-Hour Week Has Done Its Job

The nature of work has changed, and so must labor laws.
Vive la work-life balance.

Vive la work-life balance.

Photographer: Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images

France's famous 35-hour workweek is in its death throes: Bloomberg News reports that an increasing number of companies are using the country's timid labor reform, introduced this year, to get around the requirement. It doesn't mean the experiment failed, but it has probably outlived its usefulness.

President Francois Hollande is a socialist and wouldn't want to go down in history as the undertaker of the popular 35-hour norm, introduced in 2000 by another socialist government at a time the economy was expanding. At one point last year, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, mentioned extending the workweek, but he was quickly silenced; his subsequent legislative effort to make the French labor market more flexible skirted the issue.