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Govt corrects inaccurate reports on Finnish PM's alleged 4-day work week

The PM's comments about shorter working hours were made last August and are not part of current government policy.

Pääministeri Sanna Marin eduskunnan täysistunnossa Helsingissä 17. joulukuuta. Hallitus vastasi täysistunnossa opposition välikysymykseen al-Holin leirillä olevien Suomen kansalaisten tai Suomesta sinne päätyneiden Isis-perheiden kotiuttamisesta ja toimien asianmukaisuudesta.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

The government took to Twitter on Tuesday to clarify widely-reported comments about a proposed four-day work week attributed to Prime Minister Sanna Marin by international media.

In recent days, media reports from international outlets including Italy’s La Repubblica and the German Die Welt as well as The Independent, The Sun and The Daily Mail in the UK have reported on Marin’s comments proposing shorter working hours.

Various reports reference the PM Marin as saying that she would introduce a four-day week and a six-hour working day.

However Marin floated the idea about shorter working hours during a panel discussion last August on the occasion of the party’s 120th anniversary. The Social Democratic Party’s media organ Demokraatti reported her statements at the time.

"I believe that people deserve more time for their families, hobbies and other aspects of life, like culture. This could be the next step in our working lives," Marin said at the anniversary event.

A few days later Marin tweeted that the vision "might be utopia today, but it could be reality in the future." At the same time she clarified her statements, noting that it was an SDP goal and not current policy.

On Tuesday, the government’s official Twitter account attempted to correct the misconception.

"In the Finnish Government's program there is no mention about 4-day week. Issue is not on the Finnish Government's agenda. [The] PM envisioned [the] idea briefly in a panel discussion last August while she was the Minister of Transport, and there hasn’t been any recent activity," the tweet said.

No further comment from PM

Government communications director Päivi Anttikoski said it is not clear how Marin’s statements surfaced in international media.

"It’s a complete mystery," she commented.

However Helsinki-based English-language media outlet News Now Finland detailed in an article how an Austrian news outlet revived Marin’s comments from last August.

The Daily Mail was apparently the first outlet in the UK to report on the proposal, but even before that the EU-focused service New Europe had written about it.

The government has taken the initiative in correcting the erroneous reporting. It said that many media representatives had reached out about the issue.

"This has been a total case of fake news. First of all, Marin did not propose simultaneously shortening the work week and the work day. Secondly she mentioned the issue while she was transport minister once in August at the SDP’s 120-year anniversary by saying why can’t we have this as well?" Anttikoski elaborated.

The communications chief said that PM Marin would no longer comment on the matter.

"If she comments, it will take off again," Anttikoski speculated.

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