Nicola Harrington - guest blogger living in France with 7 holiday rental gites

Nicola Harrington

The 35 hour working week is extremely important to the French. There are many European laws that are regularly and openly flouted by the French, but not the 35 hour week. The French also don’t appear to like shift work. I am sure that this is one of the reasons that shops only open 35 hours a week and close from mid-day until 2.30pm.

As a little aside, I know from personal experience that workers, in particular shop assistants, do not like the idea of breaking the sacro-saint rule of Sunday closure. For instance, it isn’t unusual anymore to find an open supermarket on a Sunday morning, or even all day. Shop owners used to get fined if they opened on a Sunday, which is now something of the past. Also, only volunteers used to be called upon to work on a Sunday, whereas these days, if Sunday working is mentioned in their contract, they have to work.

But I digress…

Reminiac is about half an hour from an army training base, the French equivalent to Sandhurst, a major employer in the area. Everyone that we know that works for the army has Friday afternoon off as they have worked their 35 hours. Friday afternoon would not be a good time for a National emergency!

Given that the 35 hour working week also includes civil servants, and that the French are so passionate about it but are reluctant to work shifts, I am increasing troubled by our rubbish collection.

The French 35 hour week 1

As in the UK, we now have yellow wheelie bins for our recyclable rubbish. This rubbish is collected fortnightly… at 8.00 pm on a Tuesday evening.

This must be a private enterprise but again, this surprises me as there are very few public services that aren’t run by the state. Assuming that it is a private company, I very much admire the person in charge, who is not happy to see the very expensive dustcarts stand idle and has devised a shift pattern to get as many hours ‘work’ from the dustcarts. Bravo… but I would like to know how he managed to persuade his workforce to work shifts…

Whatever his arguments, one thing is for sure: they will all still be working 35 hours a week!

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