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Working less for longer

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, July 21, 2014
Posted: 4 pm ET

The world's second-richest man, Carlos Slim, offered up a new plan for work and retirement during a business conference in Uruguay last weekend. Instead of retiring at 65 -- or younger -- after a hard-charging career, people should work a decade longer, he said. But workers should limit their work week to three long days.


Billionaire CEO Carlos Slim says work weeks should consist of three long days. © HENRY ROMERO/Reuters/Corbis

"This means that people do not retire at 50 or 60 years old," the news agency reported him as saying at the 20th Montevideo Circle meeting of business leaders and politicians from throughout Latin America. "People are going to have to work for more years, until they are 70 or 75, and just work three days a week -- perhaps 11 hours a day," Slim said.

The Financial Times reports that the 74-year-old Mexican billionaire CEO of South American phone company Telmex has already started to test his theory. Union contracts at Telmex allow workers with a certain amount of tenure to retire before they are 50. To keep people on the job longer, Slim is offering retirement-eligible older workers the ability to work only four days a week in return for full pay.

Even shorter work weeks would be good for creativity, Slim reportedly told the group of leaders. "With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life. Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied."

Slim isn't alone in his opinion that people work too much. In the UK's, economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting economic policies that improve people's lives, wrote that the U.S. work week is too long. Baker said that if U.S. workers adopted German policies and worked 20 percent less, unemployment would be virtually eliminated.

What do you think? Should Americans work less for potentially a longer timeframe? Would this make your retirement better or worse?

Read about the pros and cons of union jobs.

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July 29, 2014 at 12:24 am

Wait a minute. This Mexican billionbaire can't see that his people are leaving his country by the MILLIONS because they can't find work? seriously?? If working part-time allowed us to pay our bills,medical expenses, and living expenses,then of course people would jump at the chance. But what employer is letting you buy their medical insurance for part-time work? Medicare expenses cost money. Many years ago, Medicare covered everything 100%. Now, we have to buy supplemental insurance when we retire AND Medicare has now charged money for items it never used to. Hope your part-time work in retirement can afford that!

July 28, 2014 at 5:08 pm

My husband at 62 comes home exhausted from Stress in the work place. He is very good at what he does but having a boss directly above you who takes the credit and couldn't do the work my husband does, if he had to. Some people are spring chickens no matter how hard they try to stay in shape. If my husband could retire now he would happily do it but there is still a mortgage and standard living bills to be paid.

July 27, 2014 at 8:37 am

Would be great if one could work 3 days a week, but the business world doesn't work just 3 days a week; too many deadlines, something always pops up, etc. In other words, it's not realistic.

I'm wondering if the folks who work for this billionaire work only 3 days a week? I'm guessing not. When you go to your local store, is there anything you buy made in Germany or France? Nope.

July 24, 2014 at 7:04 pm

I like this idea as left a full time job at 56 to have more time with family. If three day a week was an option, I would have continued to work.

July 24, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I love the idea. How about adding one month's yearly paid vacation plus one month's paid sick leave, like they do in France? A great way to stimulate creativity and use all the accumulated knowledge and experience we have in our old age. And it would keep us from feeling useless when we get old.

July 24, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I would like to work 3 days a week when I am eligible for retirement, why not? What are you going to do, you can still have leave for vacations and the sort. I think most people have this grandeur idea of retirement...too late once you do.