Of course, none of these "flexibilities" allow employees to work more without increasing their compensation. And that's where the problem lies. In reality, some employers, particularly in Very Small Enterprises, would like to have their employees work more without paying them more, or at least not in proportion. This is illustrated by the very powerful tax cuts introduced under the Sarkozy five-year period, which enabled employers to largely offset the extra costs associated with overtime increases, but which did not increase the number of overtime hours, because employers simply did not ask for them! In short, the real issue today is no longer to make the 35-hour week more flexible, but rather to know whether we are committed to reducing hourly wages, particularly the minimum wage. I highly doubt that it is politically feasible to go down this path... But, in any case, it is in these terms that the debate must be held today, otherwise we will be going in circles.
Is deleting a public holiday a good idea?
France has one more public holiday than the European average: 11 public holidays compared to 10 in Germany, 7 in the United Kingdom, 11 in Sweden and 12 in Italy... It is certain that the accumulation of these days in May is unfortunate, because it somewhat disorganizes production, and that removing one would make sense.
But no one imagines that such a measure would have a significant macroeconomic impact, and I am not sure that the country should be turned upside down for that...! And, above all, we would have to ensure that the abolition of this public holiday does not serve as a pretext for creating an additional tax to levy the additional value added created as a result. In other words, let's not repeat what was done in 2004 with the real-false abolition of Whit Monday as a public holiday and the real (!) creation of a "solidarity contribution" weighing on wages.
How can we come out on top of this controversy over the "35 hours"?
First, we should stop considering the question of working hours in the same terms as in the 1960s, the era of the factory's civilization, with its time clocks, its homogeneous work and its interchangeable and worn-out workers at 50 years old!
With new forms of productive organisation, new technologies and the emergence of a genuine knowledge-based society (where, broadly speaking, the question of adapting and developing skills is a professional survival issue for more and more employees and companies), the question of working time must be raised differently.
In fact, we will increasingly have to deal with grey areas between actual work (in person, under the authority of the manager) and non-work. We are obviously thinking of the thorny issue of disconnection times outside the time and place of work. We could also re-examine the issue of working from home during certain types of sick leave or, for that matter, the abuse of these sick leave. Teleworking is, in a way, part of the subject: while it is obviously actual working time, it includes grey areas (no time clock, no supervision, the possibility of taking time off to pick up your children from school, etc.).