Économie et Statistique n° 376-377 - 2004The shorter working week
Changes in work schedules from 1995 to 2001: the impact of the 35-hour week
The transition to the 35-hour working week was not just about reducing legal working time. Sector and corporate negotiations covered working hours, their organisation, working conditions and wages. This paper analyses mainly the impact of the 35-hour working week on the time organisation of work and more specifically on employees' work schedules. The findings presented are based on the use of two INSEE working hours surveys of employees in 1995 and 2001, before and after the «Aubry» acts, and the shorter working week agreements monitoring file put together by the Ministry of Labour. These agreements, implemented by private-sector firms pursuant to the «Aubry» acts, have definitely affected employee work schedules. Although the repetition of identical working weeks remains the norm, this mode has declined in firms that have shifted to 35 hours. Approximately 5% of these firms' employees, who previously worked the same number of days per week with the same hours, have switched to regular schedules organised over longer periods than the week or have experienced erratic variations in their working days and hours. These two types of schedules have developed in similar proportions for employees who have switched to a 35-hour working week. Moreover, the extent of the impact and the nature of the new schedule established vary depending on the employee's hierarchical position, line of business and company size. The irregularity of days worked has grown more in industry than in the services. Irregular hours concern executives only. Conversely, the regular schedules organised over several weeks concern only the other employees, and first and foremost employees of small industrial enterprises.