Working Nein to Five

Think tank: Fabian Society

Author(s): Sasjkia Otto

November 6, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Fabian Society looks at what the UK can learn from Germany about work-life balance.

Poor work-life balance is bad for our health, bad for the economy and steals time we could spend with loved ones. Yet it is endemic in the UK: nearly half of the workforce said they were burnt out in 2021, and increases in productivity over the last 40 years have not brought commensurate working time reductions.

In this report, Fabian Society senior researcher Sasjkia Otto asks what we can learn from Germany, which, while facing issues of its own, has the lowest average working hours per week in the OECD. Drawing on the German example, the report calls for the government to actively reduce working time and improve work-life balance.

The report argues that the government should enhance minimum statutory rights, strengthen the social safety net with better sick pay and parental leave, establish institutions to drive down working time, and empower workers through firm-level and sector-level collective bargaining.