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Greece starts six-day working week for some industries

Written by on July 4, 2024

Greece has introduced a six-day working week for certain industries in a bid to boost economic growth.

New legislation, which came into effect at the start of July, allows employees to work up to 48 hours in a week as opposed to 40.

It only applies to businesses that operate on a 24-hour basis and is optional for workers, who get paid an extra 40% for the overtime they do.

However, the move by the Greek government is at odds with workplace culture elsewhere in Europe and the United States, where four-day working patterns are becoming more common.

Firms adopting these policies typically argue that working fewer hours actually boosts productivity and staff well-being.

It is hoped that Greece’s six-day working week plan will help combat undeclared work that leads to tax evasion, according to Greek public broadcaster ERTNews.

Tourist businesses and the food industry are not included in the policy.

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the “nucleus of this legislation is worker-friendly, it is deeply growth-oriented”, The Guardian first reported.

“And it brings Greece in line with the rest of Europe.”

The European Union’s “working time directive” requires member states to guarantee a 48-hour limit to weekly working hours, including overtime.

A spokeswoman for Greece’s ministry of labour and social security said the policy applied to “two specific types of businesses”.

Businesses that operate continuously, 24 hours, seven days a week, using rotating shifts.

“In both cases, the extra working day option is an exceptional measure, permissible only in response to increased workload,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.

“It is important to note that this measure does not affect in any way the established five-day working week mandated by law. Instead, it serves to address urgent operational demands that cannot be met through the available supply of specialised workers.”

The Greek government added that the new regulations would also protect workers against “under-declared or undeclared work and ensure fair compensation”.

The global financial crisis of the late 2000s had a devastating effect on Greece, as the legacy of high public spending and widespread tax evasion left the country with crippling debts.

Mitsotakis has been credited with successfully returning the economy to growth after the crisis forced Greece to seek three international bailouts.

But when it comes to working patterns, Greece appears to be moving in the opposite direction to other nations.

Since the Covid pandemic companies have been embracing flexible working models and many have trialled four-day weeks, with staff seeing no loss in wages.

Trials of a four-day week in Iceland were deemed an “overwhelming success” and led to many workers moving to shorter hours, according to researchers, which claimed productivity remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces.


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