France scraps 35-hour working week limit

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has successfully abolished the country’s controversial 35-hour working week limit.

A law passed by the country’s parliament late on Wednesday will allow French employers to strike individual deals with unions on working hours.

Employer groups in the UK have long held up France’s 35-hour limit as an example of why the UK should retain an opt-out from the Working Time Directive. Although credited with creating up to 350,000 jobs between 1998 and 2002, the strict limit cost France about £10bn a year in state aid.

Since coming into office last year, Sarkozy has blamed the 35-hour week for damaging France’s economic competitiveness.

The UK secured a deal last month to keep its opt-out from the 48-hour working week limit in the EU’s Working Time Directive.

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