Skidelsky’s report on working hours

A French-style cap on the length of the working week has been rejected by a study, commissioned by the Labour party, into ways of giving employees more leisure time.

The report, by the cross-bench peer Robert Skidelsky, found a blanket limit on working hours was unrealistic and undesirable, and instead proposed a sector-by-sector approach.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, who asked Skidelsky to look into the feasibility of legislation to limit work hours, said he would make use of the report to formulate Labour policy.

Anyone actually seen a copy of the report?

I’m really rather certain – not 100% but close – that I know the mistake made in it. But I want to check.

21 comments on “Skidelsky’s report on working hours

  1. ““Something is very wrong with how the world of work has changed in recent years,” McDonnell said.

    “Millions are working long hours while others can’t get the security of the regular hours they need to get by.”

    No, you just don’t understand how the world has changed because the last time you were there was the 1970s, The zero day stuff in McDonalds reflects working mothers and a large student population.

    And who is working more hours? When I was growing up, in all sorts of departments and places, there was always overtime on offer, and I never hear of it much today.

  2. My guess is it’ll be the French productivity figs. i.e. cap hours so the least productive hours (and and/or peeps) will be the ones jettisoned. productivity per hour goes up… production though goes down.

    “sector by sector” – so discrimination then. (against junior doctors most likely otherwise we get to see the belly of the NHS)

  3. How is a cap going to affect people who work more than one job?

    Who is going to define “work” and how would the whole shemozzle be policed?

    All balls.

  4. ‘I know the mistake made in it.’

    Teacher! Teacher! Call me! I know the answer!

    Government interfering with the marketplace.

  5. Junior doctors have no choice about which employer to work for. Big surprise they have poor conditions, then…

  6. Tim N- well quite, and probably quite a lot of mischief could be done there should labour exempt their time and not um shall we say car workers
    It reeks of it not being a sound principle if you exempt the one sector where the mess that would be caused by your policy would be yours to clear up.

  7. Apart from a school holiday job the year we won the World Cup, I’ve never had a job where my time was even recorded, nor one where I could walk out at knocking-off time if something was going on. How many people are actually on the clock?

  8. Clock watching belongs in the past.

    In an economy, virtually without unemployment and technologically forward-looking businesses, off-site working and knowledge-based work, the working hours ‘exploited’ are fewer than they have ever been and far between.

    Legislating for the entire economy based on individual bad apples is a lousy, ‘progressive’, let’s get back to the wonderful 3-day-week cause. Oops!

    The socialists in Spain are on the same case. Stopping nasty capitalists. Only problem is none of them have ever had a real job outside the party unless it was as a union ‘organizer’.

    The world has changed and moved on and they are not of it.

  9. We need to crack down on moonlighting, where the greedy steal the jobs from the unemployed. At the same time look at those poor souls who need two jobs to survive. While not forgetting how wonderful in the digital economy it is to have a portfolio of skills and jobs the you can build around your other responsibilities and caring requirements.

  10. So…
    Worker: “I’ve just had a third child, so need more money, so will work more to get more money”
    Cap: “No, fuck off, starve”

  11. Rob Fisher – besides the private sector, the charities, the agencies etc. And emigrating overseas.
    Hey, pretty much like any other professional role.

  12. @Martin

    For junior docs, who essentially haven’t finished their training yet, no, those mostly aren’t options. The main alternative to the NHS is doing your on-the-job training stage overseas instead as you mentioned (but from memory even this is limited – iirc you can’t go to the USA as an F1 because that training stage is part of med school over there) but charities doing sight-saving operations in Africa or whatever are looking for experienced people, and I don’t think there’s any route to getting through your foundation F1/F2 stage in the UK purely via the private sector. Am not an expert but this is what I’ve gathered from the British doctors I know.

  13. To be clear, options open up somewhat more widely for doctors who completed their foundation training, and massively more so for those who completed their specialist training. Junior docs who stay in the UK are in a much worse place, because effectively they are not a “fully qualified professional” yet and only the NHS system will employ them and provide the additional training they need to get the foundation stage over and done with.

  14. Arthur TC. ok thanks. we await Tim’s parsing.

    /…. general reduction in working hours has been made possible by productivity growth, and brought about by a combination of collective bargaining, voluntarism, and legislation. ”

    Starkly missing the individual aspect or is that what the Lord calls voluntarism?

  15. dearieme,

    “How is a cap going to affect people who work more than one job?”

    And do you factor in things like travel time? If you do an hour to work and back, that’s 10 hours.

  16. The apparent effect of the limited hours per week policy in France, coupled with what seems to be essentially unbounded unemployment pay, is that nobody’s prepared to go to work. Even the ‘immigrants’….

    (Well, of course folk do go to work; but little companies like the painter I’m using find it all but impossible to get labour. And all such companies complain that ‘the young’ are useless shiftless workshop aerosols who expect to be paid and cosseted whether they do any work or not, and then bugger off with minimal notice)

    Plus the 20% VAT payable on practically everything means that the black economy is a normal part of life.

    Food’s good, though 🙂

  17. Lots of professions are still this way. Trainees are expected to do massive amounts of work for very little pay, in the hope that they will be admitted to the hallowed halls and be ‘on the gravy train for life’.

    See also unpaid interns. There’s nothing particularly special about the position of junior doctors.

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