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Wednesday's papers: Can Finland afford a shorter working week?

The PM's idea to shorten working hours makes waves while parents no longer need a Covid test for every sniffle.

Kuvassa on lapsi, joka käyttää kasvomaskia.
The THL says kids can now return to school or daycare after one symptom-free day at home. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Business lobby-backed research institute ETLA has taken aim at Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s aspiration to shorten working hours in Finland--a vision which aims for less work but same pay, according to business magazine Talouselämä.

ETLA said shorter working hours would drive up prices, cause bankruptcies and hike up taxes.

"This sounds like utopia, but as it's coming from the prime minister with plans to establish a working group, it's really frightening and reckless and would destroy the Finnish economy if pushed through," ETLA’s managing director, Aki Kangasharju, told TE.

But the Labour Institute for Economic Research took a different approach, saying Marin’s ideas were realistic.

"The wealthier societies become, the more people value their time," Elina Pylkkänen who heads the institute said, adding that already now some people only put in the time they feel they need to.

At the start of this year, Marin made international headlines when news outlets suggested she wanted to introduce a four-day work week. The government promptly issued a statement saying these ideas were not part of the cabinet's agenda.

THL: Sniffly kids OK, after all

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has relaxed guidelines urging that parents get Covid tests for children exhibiting symptoms of upper respiratory infection, according to Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

Many parents have found themselves in a tough predicament over the past few weeks as daycare centres have sent children home at the first signs of a runny nose while the testing system has been severely backlogged.

THL said that while kids should stay home when they’re under the weather, they don’t need to get tested unless their parents believe there’s a realistic chance they could have caught the virus. Schools cannot demand parents produce paperwork proving negative test results, according to the paper.

Airport issued outdated quarantine info

Helsinki Airport is facing criticism for issuing outdated quarantine guidelines that last week still said travellers could return straight to work, according to Helsingin Sanomat’s top story on Wednesday.

Since health agency THL tightened voluntary quarantine guidelines on 8 August, people arriving in Finland from most countries in the world are not supposed to go to work, school, daycare, hobbies or use public transport for 14 days.

HS wrote that sluggish inter-agency communication and poor monitoring could lead to travellers once again spreading
coronavirus in Finland.

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