Greece Bucks the Trend, Approves a 6-Day Workweek

Greece has introduced a six-day workweek for certain businesses, a move that is in contrast to many countries testing a four-day workweek. This change is part of a package of labor laws passed last year and applies to businesses offering round-the-clock services, giving employees the option to work an extra two hours per day or an additional eight-hour shift, totaling 48 hours per week. Workers opting for the extra hours will receive a 40% top-up fee to their daily wage.

Trials of four-day workweeks have shown increases in productivity and better focus, but Greece’s pro-business government argues that a six-day workweek is growth-orientated and worker-friendly. The government aims to address issues such as undeclared labor, improperly compensated overtime work, a shortage of skilled workers, and a declining population. However, labor unions strongly oppose this move, calling it “barbaric.”

Critics argue that the reform will eventually end the five-day workweek because private employers have the discretion to mandate a sixth day of work. Critics also contend that the move is counterproductive, as research suggests that better productivity comes with less working hours, not more. The lengthy working hours in Greece (1,886 hours in 2022) already surpass both the EU average (1,571 hours) and the US average (1,811 hours). Some experts warn that workers may be at risk of being fired for refusing to work longer hours.

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