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03rd Jul 2024

European country becomes the first to introduce a six-day working week

Zoe Hodges

They are aiming to boost productivity.

Greece has become the first EU country to introduce a six-day working week as it seeks to boost productivity and employment

The regulation, which came into force on July 1st goes against the global trend of companies trying to shorten the working week.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ pro-business government said the plans were ‘worker-friendly’ and ‘deeply growth-orientated’.

The measures have been brought in place in the hope of reducing undeclared labour and ensuring overtime work is sufficiently compensated.

However, labour unions and political observers have slammed the move by the Greek government saying the law will exploit workers as labour inspections are currently inadequate in Greece.

Giorgos Katsambekis, a lecturer in European and international politics at the U.K.’s Loughborough University said the law was a ‘major step back’ for a workforce that is already working more hours than any other country in the EU.

According to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, workers in Greece work more hours than those in the other 27 countries in the EU as well as those in Japan and the US.

Greek employees in 2022 worked an average of 1886 hours compared to the US  average of 1811 and the EU average of 1571.

Meanwhile, elsewhere the world’s largest trial of a four-day working week has been taking place and a report published by think tank Autonomy earlier this year found that most companies involved in that trial had made the policy permanent.

The legislation in Greece is part of a broader set of labour laws which were passed last year. Employees of private businesses that provide round-the-clock services will have the option of working an additional two hours per day or an extra eight-hour shift.