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Certain Private Sectors in Greece Adopt 6-day Workweek to Improve its Struggling Economy

The workweek is about to get longer for some employees in Greece. Starting July 1, private sector workers may find themselves heading to the office six days a week, as the 48-hour workweek takes effect.

Under new labor laws, certain industrial and manufacturing facilities, along with businesses providing 24/7 services, can extend the workweek beyond the traditional five days. However, food service and tourism workers are exempt from these longer workweeks.

The labor law changes, approved last September, were introduced to address productivity issues in Greece, where many workers have been putting in extra hours without compensation. Officials also highlight a shortage of skilled workers due to the country’s shrinking population.

Employees who work beyond the standard hours will receive a 40% bonus for the additional eight hours and 115% of their normal salary if they work on a holiday. Employers opting for the 48-hour workweek must notify employees at least 24 hours before the shift begins, and no additional overtime beyond the eight hours is permitted.

The new rules were met with significant opposition. Public sector workers, including teachers, doctors, and transportation employees, protested by walking off the job the day before the bill was passed. They argued that the changes were an affront to workers’ rights and could lead to “barbaric” working conditions.

Workers in Greece already put in more hours than their counterparts in the U.S. and most of Europe. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Greeks worked an average of 1,886 hours in 2022, compared to 1,811 hours in the U.S. and 1,571 hours in the European Union.

Greece’s approach to labor is notable as many other regions are experimenting with a four-day workweek. Last year, the world’s largest trial of a shorter workweek showed that workers were just as productive in four days as they were in five. The nonprofit running the pilot program hailed it as a “resounding success on virtually every dimension.”

In contrast, a proposal in California for a 32-hour workweek, supported by the AFL-CIO and the Economic Policy Institute, failed to gain traction when introduced last March.