The French Say
Take note, all those who'd like the U.S. to mimic Europe's family-friendly labor policies: A recent survey found that many French people actually wished they could work more. Fifty-four percent of French employees responding to the poll said they disliked a government-mandated cap on the number of hours (a scant 35) they can work in a week. The 1998 law, signed by then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, a Socialist, was intended to boost job growth. The unemployment rate did drop initially but is on the rise again. Workers said they oppose the rule because it unfairly punishes companies, many of which are forced to hire more staffers than they would otherwise need to compensate. Not surprisingly, entrepreneurs also hate the law. They complain that it will force them to cut salaries, and may ultimately drive them to relocate to neighboring nations like Switzerland, where nonindustrial workers can clock up to 50 hours a week. "I may have to take fewer clients or hire someone part-time," says Stephanie H. Simonard, owner and chief attorney of Paris tax law firm Cabinet Simonard, which must adopt the rule by January 1. "We're all hoping and praying they'll change the law."