Advantages and disadvantages
There are a number of advantages both for the employer and for the workers, together with some benefits from the point of view of the economy as a whole.
A first and significant advantage is that, by compressing working hours and reducing "warming-up" time,4 the unbroken work day tends to increase productivity. It also tends to increase job satisfaction by giving employees more scope for leisure pursuits and for family and social life, and this is reflected in higher individual output and easier recruitment. It may enable the firm to make some savings in overheads, e.g. lighting and heating.
From the point of view of the individual worker, apart from the daily gain in free time which many of them value more than the reduction of weekly hours, there is the reduced risk of accident from having only one instead of two return journeys to make. The change-over to a light meal in the middle of the day is considered to be beneficial to health in present-day conditions. In addition, the unbroken work day makes it easier to improve the distribution of working hours over the week by compressing them into fewer days.
From a wider point of view, its main advantage is that it enables hours to be staggered within a given area or occupation.
Nevertheless, there are also some disadvantages and points of criticism. For employers, it often means additional investment in canteens or restaurants and possibly other facilities (e.g. day nurseries) or at least a contribution to their cost. For workers, those who would still be able to go home at midday or who attach particular importance to the traditional dinner with the family will have to make a sacrifice. There is also the question whether, in the case of work involving considerable physical or nervous strain, the short midday breaks allows enough time for recovery. In the local environment, the change may affect public transport services owing to the drop in users.
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