Cut the Overtime - or Else!

Those long, extra hours at work often have a cost - mainly in the sacrifice of other priorities, like family time. But in France, workaholism is getting a quite different kind of penalty: fines imposed by the state.

Under French law, salaried workers are supposed to put in a maximum of 35 hours a week. The authorities are serious. Businesses are being monitored for compliance; offices are installing electronic time clocks to keep track; and employees who rack up more overtime than allowed are instructed to take time off.

The impulse behind all this, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, is the government's desire to spread work around and thus trim France's 11 percent jobless rate.

But are the white collar types putting in the illegal overtime really taking jobs away from the masses of unemployed? Some of those extra hours may be spent developing new areas of business that might spawn dozens, maybe hundreds, of new jobs.

That said, we suspect that workers getting a few more hours with their kids, or on the golf course, don't mind too much. And if anyone asks, they can say they're simply obeying the law.

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