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 Paraguay.com 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 theguardian.com, 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.