We've been told time and time again that it is necessary to make it easier to combine work and family life at the time when people have small children. Having once had small children, I tend to agree. This is important for true gender equality. People should be able to work part time.
But most of the time, rhetoric goes that the evil forces of market economy should be tamed and regulated so that this is possible. This is a particularly popular view by people on the "progressive" or "left" side, such as red-greens - generally the people who favour "big government".
OK, now some people like doctors have actually been able to reach better arrangements for their lives. And immediately, there is a problem: part-time work agreements are threatening the public health services. "If our doctor is working only four days a week, how do we manage? Patients will not get the care they need" says an administrator.
How did we come to this deplorable problem situation? Via those evil market forces, of course. Private health care providers have been happy to agree to part time work, or show flexibility towards their employees. They then contract to do work for the public health system which is unable to hire - due to the inhumanly long working hours required. In order to avoid having too many workers to flee to work on the private side and come back via outsourcing deals, the public sector also has had to agree to part-time agreements and flexible arrangements. Now more of their employees do work in such amounts and at such times that they feel it is better for them. And with the immensely inflexible work culture of the public sector, this causes problems.
So what is the cure? Force the private sector employers to be less flexible towards their employees? Enforce a five-day working week for everyone on the private sector, so that they would not have a competitive advantage when trying to hire employees?
Somehow it seems to me that the red-greens want to both have the cake and eat it. Hey guys: you either allow people to work more flexible hours, or you don't. I think it is good that the market economy innovates and shows what is possible. The public sector then should be able to at least follow the leader.