Looking over from overworked America, some of the perks across the pond in Europe can appear pretty lush. Did you know that in Switzerland your boss can't say no to a vacation request if your kids are off school, in one Swedish city workers make a full-time salary for six-hour days, or that the French are guaranteed the right to ignore after-hours email by law?

Yes, it's a different world over in the continent of generous paid vacation and even more generous parental leave, but a new Swedish proposal is bound to shock even those used to gaping at the benefits offered to some European workers. One city councilman in Sweden is actually proposing paid time off to have sex.

No time for love?

"Per-Erik Muskos, a 42-year-old local council member for Overtornea in northern Sweden, proposed this week that Swedes should take a one-hour paid break from work to go home and have sex with their partners," reports Quartz. Apparently, Muskos is concerned after reading studies showing that modern couples claim to be too harried to find time for love.

The New York Times, picking up the story, also notes that Muskos claims "sex is also a great form of exercise and has documented positive effects on well-being," (can't argue with that) and also feels "we should encourage procreation."

The proposal has been met with a combination of praise, scorn, and laughter (and not a few jibes combining the proposed policy with President Trump's baffling recent comments about "last night in Sweden"), but as the Times makes clear in its entirely straight-faced write-up, it's not actually a joke. The idea could become reality.

"The motion, which is expected to be voted on in the spring, needs a simple majority to be passed by the 31-member council. As of now, opinion on the council is divided," says the article.

Getting beyond the giggles (sort of)

While it's fun to crack wise about this idea and it's far from guaranteed it'll get off the ground, the proposal, however outlandish, does address real concerns. The first being, of course, the same anxiety about work-life balance that spawned the many employee protections I've already mentioned.

Sweden and many other European countries are also worried about dropping birthrates and have suggested several novel (read: giggle-inducing) approaches to nudge citizens to have more babies, including revamped sex ed curricula and the much snickered about (though apparently successful) "Do It for Denmark!" ad campaign.

The bottom line is this: while this proposal is clearly pretty far out there, the issues it addresses, such as work-life balance and easing the juggle that makes mixing parenthood and a career so daunting, are all too real, both in Sweden and in the USA.

What do you think of this new Swedish proposal?

Published on: Feb 24, 2017