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Sunday, 9 October 2011

A plea for metric time

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have complete confidence in the ability of the EU leaders to come up with a cunning plan to subvert the pesky laws of economics. If anyone can find a way to keep us printing, borrowing and spending non-existent money for another few decades, then Sarkozy, Merkel and company are just the lads and lasses to do it.

In fact, I think we should go all the way with the Euro boffins and adopt some more of their wizzard schemes. For instance, I’d like to see the UK move over to the ‘metric’ time system used in some parts of the Eurozone. Over there, I am given to understand, they have 20-hour days (in two blocks of ten), an extra day in the week and a 'rollover' 32 extra hours each month that you can use for holidays and special occasions (or you can 'bank' them until your retirement). It may sound a little complicated, but it’s really a much fairer system than what we have now. Why, in this day and age, should we be shackling folk to the social construct of an old-fashioned calendar and to the oppressive restraints of strictly ‘linear’ time?

Under the metric system, the extra day (Euroday, added on between Thursday and Friday) is made up of the 4 hours that are taken from the 7 ‘old’ days in the traditional calendar. That leaves 8 hours extra per week, or 32 per month. If you want to 'bank' your extra hours until retirement, you can apply for a special licence from the EU time commissioner. Or, if you are happy to use those 32 extra hours at the end of each month, you simply notify your employer in order to qualify for the time off. The current ruling is that no more than 66.6% of this ‘extra’ time can be used to augment the normal weekend allowance. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled on several test cases involving folk who have tried to use only a few of the 32 hours (carrying the remainder over to the following month), but the administration involved in maintaining that kind of system would be nightmarish.

The EU time-boffins are currently drafting an updated version of the legislation, to allow for more flexible ‘time-banking’ arrangements. It should be ready by 2015, or next Tuesday.

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