The large information out of France lately is that President Macron’s controversial plan to lift the retirement age from 62 to 64 years outdated was really authorized by the constitutional court docket earlier this month. This has sparked quite a few debates about French individuals’s work ethic.
If you realize the French, you realize that putting and protesting is a part of their tradition. Outsiders who dwell in international locations the place the retirement age is larger than 64 suppose the French are fortunate and don’t have anything to complain about since they’ve it so good, which begs the query we see thrown round time and again. Are the French lazy? Let’s discuss it.
Alright, this can be a enormous matter, however let’s attempt to sort out it by first defining what laziness means. In keeping with the Oxford Dictionary, laziness is “the standard of being unwilling to work or use power.” The French phrase for “lazy” is paresseux.
And I have to say this proper out of the gate that there are lazy individuals of all nationalities together with France and the U.S. I’ve encountered lazy individuals everywhere in the world.
It’s not a attribute of individuals simply from France, however with the current information, it’s a query that has come up time and again within the media. Does that stereotype depicting the French as lazy maintain any weight or are they getting an undeserved unhealthy rap?
I feel to correctly try and reply that query, we want to check out some context, French historical past and a few details about working in France.
It was 1864 when France legalized the precise to strike and explanation why the French go on strike are fairly complicated, so simply know that issues just like the nation’s academic philosophy, unions, and much more play into it. The best to strike is within the French structure…Younger, outdated, left wing proper wing, wealthy and poor…. all sorts of French individuals strike. It’s in French blood and it’s nothing new.
Relating to rights, nicely Within the U.S., individuals like to speak about their rights — issues like freedom and the precise to bear arms for instance. The French are pleased with the rights they fought for too, however they’re simply completely different rights. In France, the precise to strike and with the ability to relaxation in a single’s retirement are extraordinarily vital. They struggle for what’s theirs.
Subsequent, based on the Organisation for Financial Cooperation and Growth (OECD), the common working week in France is 35 hours — that was put into observe within the 12 months 2000. Now 35 hours every week is decrease than the OECD common of 38.3 hours per week.
Within the U.S., we take into account an ordinary work week to be 40 hours per week. That breaks all the way down to the common French employee working 1490 hours/12 months and staff within the U.S. at 1791 hours/12 months, for comparability’s sake. It’s clear that on common the French work lower than the OECD common of 1716 hours/12 months.
However, does that imply French individuals are lazy? Let’s take a look at one other statistic. The OECD additionally reviews that the common productiveness per hour labored in France is larger than the OECD common. In reality, French staff are among the many most efficient on this planet, coming in at 25 % larger than the OECD and EU28 averages. They’ve nailed the entire working sensible, not exhausting factor.
So, if French individuals are lazy, how can they be so productive, you ask?
Effectively, one doable clarification is the idea of “work-life steadiness” which France does reasonably nicely. French staff worth their free time and prioritize it over work. That is mirrored within the French labor legal guidelines that assure a minimal of 5 weeks of paid trip per 12 months (due to President François Mitterrand in 1981), amongst different advantages like a piece contract, parental go away, childcare, unemployment, and so on.
However, let’s not overlook that productiveness isn’t every thing. French individuals additionally rating extremely on different measures of well-being, resembling happiness, life satisfaction, and well being. This implies that the French means of balancing work and leisure time may very well be helpful for general well-being.
Now, let’s tackle the retirement age challenge. The French authorities’s determination to lift the retirement age to 64 has been met with main criticism. You’ve seen the protests and trash piling up in Paris from a number of weeks again.
Nevertheless, it’s vital to notice that France nonetheless has a comparatively beneficiant retirement system in comparison with different international locations. In reality, the retirement age in France has traditionally been decrease than many different European international locations.
The change in retirement age could also be seen as a vital adjustment from the president to deal with demographic challenges, resembling an getting older inhabitants and growing life expectancy. It’s additionally price noting that the retirement age shouldn’t be the one issue that impacts the labor power participation fee. Different components, resembling employment alternatives, training, and well being, additionally play a task.
I additionally wish to notice that the 35-hour work week I discussed simply earlier than was carried out with the intention of enhancing the standard of life for staff, reasonably than selling laziness and in addition as a result of the left wing authorities on the time seen it as a strategy to create extra jobs. And naturally you’ll discover individuals who work nicely past that 35-hour mark.
It’s additionally price noting that France has a powerful custom of labor activism and staff’ rights. The nation has a historical past of combating for truthful wages, cheap working hours, and protected working circumstances. French staff are identified for his or her robust unionization and are usually not afraid to strike to demand higher working circumstances. Air site visitors management, pilots, railway staff, lecturers, docs… you title in, they strike!
That brings me to cultural variations. One among them is that in France, the French work to dwell whereas within the U.S., People dwell to work. And there are causes for this and programs in place that maintain issues the best way they’re.
The French are masters at dwelling nicely and having fun with life, which is less complicated to do when you could have a job contract and all of the protections that include it like 5 weeks of obligatory paid trip every year, and healthcare protection no matter your work standing, as a result of in France healthcare is a proper afforded to all, not a privilege.
So, are the French lazy?
In order for you my opinion as somebody who has lived in France since 2012, my quick reply isn’t any. The French are usually not lazy. Whereas they might have shorter workweeks and longer trip time, the stats present that French individuals are really extra productive than staff in different international locations. Their deal with the work-life steadiness and robust labor rights traditions have led to a greater high quality of life for staff and a better general productiveness fee.
It’s straightforward to be extra relaxed about work and prioritize your work-life steadiness if you don’t rely in your job for healthcare, that beneficiant trip time is a employee’s proper and never a profit supplied by good employers, and when you could have all types of employment protections that received’t go away you and not using a roof over your head whereas working you to the bone.
Anyway, my ideas listed here are simply the tip of the iceberg. It is a actually complicated matter however hopefully that’s given you some meals for thought. I’d love to listen to from you beneath, in the event you’ve labored with French individuals, what do you suppose? In your expertise, do you are feeling that French individuals are lazy? Do you see a distinction within the personal versus public sector?