Jan 22 2005

You know it’s Friday in Sweden…

…because only 50% of the population goes to work!

Okay, perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit. But seriously, there were half as many people as usual on the bus this morning and at least half as many on the train as well. And this is consistently the case on Fridays. I think it’s because Swedish labor rules are designed in such a way that parents can take their maternity/paternity leave (up to a full year off divided between both Mom and Dad) over time instead of all at once. I can’t tell you how many people I know personally who are *still* taking a day off each week in connection with a child that is already in school! And Friday is naturally the favored day for this.

A lot of Swedish workplaces also operate on flex time, and unlike their counterparts in the U.S., Swedish employees actually use it. And they can be very creative about it, too…accumulating work hours in such a way so that they can actually take a full day off every other week or so. (Again…usually a Friday.)

Then of course there is the very enviable 5 weeks of vacation time (required by law). Lots of folks do take a huge chunk of it in the summer (some even take all five weeks at once…which strikes me as a little nuts, but then I’m a work-a-holic American) but plenty of others like to scatter it around through the year in the form of long weekends. Are you seeing the pattern here?

On second thought, maybe I wasn’t exaggerating all that much!


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Feed my ego!

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