The reduction of working hours has a twofold impact on workers, both in their working lives and in their social, family and private lives. 2 The current debate in France revolves around the number of jobs generated by the legislation and agreements involved. However, there is also a second debate, which has attracted little attention but which has arisen in disputes over the application of the 35-hour week, about the reasons why a reduction in working hours does not always meet workers’ expectations either at or outside work. There are two aspects of this second debate that are worth examining: the position and the role of workers in the process, and the fact that the reduction in working hours has come at a time of weakened trade union influence.