France Eliminates Sunday Work Restrictions

Bureau of EconomicsThe Wall Street Journal reported this week that the French government has relaxed restrictions on requiring retailers to close on Sundays.  Americans will find this strange but most European countries are rather quiet places on Sundays, where many retailers are closed.  This of course dates back to a time when one was expected to go to church and pray on Sundays, but now it is taken more simply as a day of rest.

Having lived in both the U.S. and Switzerland, I can say that there is something to both having to plan ahead one day so that you’ll have food for Sunday (and breakfast for Monday), as well, as something to be said for not running around one day per week.

Obviously this sounds rather paternalistic on the part of the governments, and it does originate from people who call themselves Fathers, but there is another side to who gets to play daddy.  Someone, I think it was George Stephanopoulos, joked early in the Clinton administration, “If you didn’t work 14 hours on Saturday, don’t even bother showing up on Sunday.”  The National Sleep Foundation conducted a survey that shows the average American works 46 hours per week, trying to compete with his or her neighbor, and our neighbors to the South, and China, and everyone else.  Employers are the new Fathers in this world of globalization.  Perhaps such laws pose a limit on employee productivity, and perhaps that’s just as well.

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