In a significant shift, Greece has introduced a new work policy that extends the typical workweek to six days for some businesses. This change, effective from July 1, is a departure from the global trend where companies are exploring shorter work weeks.

Big Change in Greece as Workdays Extend to Six a Week

(Photo : Oleksii Khodakivskiy on Unsplash)

Greece's Longer Work Week Stirs Debate

The Greek government, led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, argues that this move will boost the nation's productivity and help tackle undeclared labor. Specifically, the new rule applies to employees in private sectors that require 24-hour services. 

Workers can choose to work an extra two hours daily or add an eight-hour shift to their week. This could push a usual 40-hour workweek to 48 hours for some.

This decision has not been well-received by everyone. 

According to CNBC News, labor unions and experts have criticized the government, claiming the change is a step back for workers who are already among the hardest-working in Europe. 

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that Greeks worked an average of 1,886 hours in 2022, more than their counterparts in the U.S. and the EU.

Critics argue that while the government brands the law as "worker-friendly" and growth-focused, it might put undue strain on the workforce. 

This is particularly controversial as many countries are moving towards reducing work hours, with some companies even adopting a four-day workweek, seeing improvements in productivity and worker satisfaction.

As Greece adopts this new six-day workweek policy, it remains to be seen how it will impact the overall productivity and well-being of its workers.

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Weekday Shifts Challenge Norms

Starting July 1, Greece is implementing a significant change to its labor laws, allowing certain businesses to expand their workweek to six days. 

This decision affects primarily industrial, manufacturing, and continuous service sectors, although tourism and food service industries are exempt.

Legal specialist Emmanouil Savoidakis, associated with Politis & Partners in Athens, explains that this new framework aims to address the shortage of declared work and fine-tune the labor market's efficiency. 

While the increase from a 40-hour to a potential 48-hour workweek offers higher pay for longer hours, it is not uniformly applied across all industries but targets those with specific operational needs.

As DW reported, this policy shift in Greece arrives amidst a broader European conversation where many nations are experimenting with reducing work hours. 

For example, companies in Germany and the UK are exploring a four-day week, aiming to maintain productivity with fewer working hours.

The Greek government's approach reflects a different strategy in response to ongoing economic and demographic challenges, including an aging population and a decrease in the skilled workforce, essential for sectors like agriculture, tourism, and construction.

Critics and experts argue that while the new workweek might temporarily alleviate some labor market issues, it doesn't address the need for substantial structural reforms. 

These include creating attractive career opportunities and improving wage conditions to match the professional skills of workers, essential for long-term economic stability and growth in Greece.

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