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4 day week for separated parents, a measure that doesn’t hold up

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal wants to implement “differentiated weeks” for divorced or separated parents, having established an alternating custody system for their children.

This is a project still under study, but it is not yet unanimous. As revealed by Sunday grandstand, Gabriel Attal would consider introducing the four-day week system for divorced or separated parents. This proposal would aim to improve the well-being of families and meet the specific needs of those whose parents are separated. But although this initiative is presented as a solution to many inequalities, it could potentially worsen inequalities between parents and especially for mothers.

How would the four-day week work for separated parents?

If this measure of “ different week » is still only in the draft stage, it could be possible thanks to the flexibility of the schedules of the parents involved. For example, if the idea is to maintain the same total number of working hours over a four-day week instead of a five-day week, affected parents could work more days out of the four days worked. Hypothetically, instead of the usual eight hours, they could work ten hours a day. Their other 5-day week would remain unchanged in terms of schedules. In addition to this, divorced parents could benefit, in agreement with their company, from possible flexibility in the distribution of working hours over the four days. Everything should be negotiated and adjusted with the company.

The four-day week for separated parents, an already controversial idea

The problem with this reform is that it could put further pressure on mothers, who already have to face heavier social and family expectations. There is no doubt that more women than men would opt for this organization of working hours. This measure risks strongly reinforcing gender stereotypes by assuming that mothers will be the main beneficiaries of this additional time with their children, while fathers could continue to work full time, unchanged, without this affecting them.

When we know that, according to INSEE in 2020, in France 480,000 children live in alternating residence with their parents, or 12%, we know well how this reform will end.

For women who already face pay gaps and pay inequality, a four-day week could have negative impacts on their careers and progression. What will happen if you miss meetings because they fall during their “differential week”? What about projects they won’t be able to participate in because it falls on the “wrong week”?

A reform that must be more inclusive

While Gabriel Attal’s proposal aims to improve the well-being of parents and their children as well as work-life balance, it is crucial and essential to ensure that any measures taken do not perpetuate existing inequalities between the sexes and that this does not backfire mothers in particular. Adjustments must be necessary so that this measure does not perpetuate the inequalities already present in society and truly promotes the cohesion of all families, regardless of their structure.


Éric Rocheblave, a lawyer specializing in labor law, confided to HuffPost :

This is the epitome of a good bad idea.. Either we do a 4 day week for everyone, or we don’t. Why grant this privilege only to some of the workers, who are separated and not single parents, for example?

Furthermore, regarding discrimination in hiring, Éric Rocheblave adds:

Companies that don’t want people who work 4 days a week will tend not to hire people who have alternating children. Or we will face a spike in divorces or separations, because everyone will want access to it!

Furthermore, the introduction of this four-day week for separated parents could raise concerns about its fairness towards workers who do not have children. A more balanced approach that takes into account the needs of all workers, with or without children, is essential to avoid any perception of injustice or discrimination.

The four-day week is a good idea, which deserves to be reworked and adapted for everyone.

Gabriel Attal is expected to provide more information on this reform during the Government Workshop on Wednesday 27 March.


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Source: Madmoizelle

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