Billionaire calls for three-day working week

LUCY CORMACK
Last updated 08:39 23/07/2014

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They say that if you love what you do you won't work a day in your life.

And according to the world's second-richest man this is true, if you're working just three days a week.

Mexican communications tycoon Carlos Slim shared his theory on a reduced working week at a conference in Paraguay, saying it was the key to a healthier and more efficient work force, Britain's Financial Times reported.

"With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life," he said, adding that a four-day weekend was vital for encouraging "new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied."

The 74-year-old telecom tycoon's perspective is in stark contrast to that of Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, who has previously told minimum wage earners to "spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.''

But Slim would appear to disagree with the mining magnate, telling the conference that less time working each week meant people could work beyond the traditional retirement age of 50 or 60.

"People are going to have to work for more years, until they are 70 or 75, and just work three days a week - perhaps 11 hours a day," he said.

But fewer working days could cost employers more, if they had to pay overtime for shifts stretching out to 11 hours.

Such an overhaul to introduce longer days seems unlikely in many counries. Australian unions expressed outrage this month when the Department of Human Services suggested a plan to keep its 35,000 public servants at their desks for an extra six minutes each day.

Parts of Sweden also share the thinking that shorter working days are the answer to improved efficiency.

From the start of July, Gothenburg's public sector began trialling six-hour working days, with the theory that employees would be mentally and physically more alert.

"People have long work lives, and it's necessary to think of ways to create a more humane environment for them in the workplace," Gothenburg councillor Mats Pilhem told Swedish news outlet The Local.

Slim's proposed three-day working week would be a radical move for many international job markets, but perhaps not for the billionaire's fixed-line phone company, Telmex, where he has reportedly already instituted a voluntary scheme allowing people to work on full pay for four days a week.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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