Greece allows a 6-day work week for some industries

As countries around the world experiment with shorter work weeks, Greece has taken a step in the opposite direction — introducing a six-day work week for some businesses that operate on a 24-hour basis.

The six-day work week is allowed according to new legislation that went into effect on July 1, according to CBS News’ partner network BBC News. It is optional for workers, who can work 48 hours instead of the typical 40 hours. Those who opt in can choose between working an additional two hours a day or an extra eight-hour shift, The Guardian reported. Workers will be paid 40% extra for the additional time.

“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,” a spokesperson for Greece’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security told the BBC.

Greece’s government sees it as a way to boost economic growth and protect workers against “under-declared or undeclared work and ensure fair compensation,” the BBC reported. 

Before the Greek parliament endorsed the law, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said “the nucleus of this legislation is worker-friendly, it is deeply growth-oriented. And it brings Greece in line with the rest of Europe,” according to The Guardian.

While workers in Greece may choose to increase their workload, working hours are capped at 48 hours, according to guidelines laid out by the European Union’s Working Time Directive. And as the BBC reports, tourist and food industry businesses are excluded.

The new law comes as other countries are forgoing a five-day work model in favor of shorter work weeks — a movement that gained traction in the wake of the COVID pandemic as workers across the world grew accustomed to more flexible working arrangements.

Trials of a four-day workweek in Iceland were called an “overwhelming success” by researchers in 2021, and many workers there moved to shorter hours, the BBC reported.

In France, the standard work week is 35 hours – per a law adopted in 2000 under the administration of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin – and there’s been a push to whittle it down even further, to 32 hours.

In the U.S., workers have also been clamoring for less time “in office.” More companies across the country are experimenting with a truncated workweek as employees demand flexibility and studies show that working less can make people more productive while boosting a company’s profits. 

In March, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced a bill to reduce the work week from 40 hours to 32 without affecting workers’ overall compensation.

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