Thousands of public employees in Lyon now have the option to work four days a week instead of five, without taking a pay cut. The south-eastern city, one of France's biggest, is experimenting with a shorter work week in the hope of reducing absenteeism and narrowing the gender gap.
Since the start of September, employees of Lyon Metropole, the local authority responsible for running the city and its main suburbs, have had the choice of three alternatives to the traditional five-day week: working four days a week, or four and a half, or alternating weekly between four and five days.
The idea is to ensure that all full-time staff continue to do the 35 hours that make up France's standard work week, while giving them more flexibility to decide how to fit them in.
The scheme, which is getting a one-year trial run, is being offered to more than half the administration's 9,600 employees – some 5,500 – on a voluntary basis, though others on fixed schedules, such as waste collectors, are not eligible to take part.
"It means you get a real Saturday and Sunday, instead of spending Saturday rushing around and having only Sunday to rest," Séverine Bernard Barret, who works in the human resources department, told FranceInfo.
Now she takes every other Friday off, working the other weekdays from 8am to 5pm with 45 minutes for lunch.
Yet the scheme was introduced partly to benefit working mothers, who often take part-time positions in order to manage childcare.
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