EXTRA DAYGreece’s Newly Introduced Six-Day Working Week Sparks Debate

Greece has stirred up a storm with its latest legislative leap—ushering in a six-day working week for some businesses. In a bold bid to boost productivity and employment, the Hellenic Republic is swimming against the tide of global trends favoring shorter work weeks.

From July 1, Greek employees in specific sectors now have the option to extend their work hours with an extra eight-hour shift, courtesy of a new regulation tied into last year’s broader labor law overhaul. This new move means some workers might see their standard 40-hour week stretch to a grueling 48 hours.

Don’t worry, food service and tourism workers—you get a pass on this one. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s government insists the measure is “worker-friendly” and “deeply growth-oriented.” They argue it’s designed to ensure fair compensation for overtime and to stamp out undeclared labor.

However, not everyone’s singing “Zorba the Greek” about this change. Labor unions and political critics are fuming. “This is a major step back,” huffed Giorgos Katsambekis, a European and international politics lecturer at Loughborough University. “Our workforce already logs the longest hours in the EU, and now this?”

Indeed, stats from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development back him up. Greek employees clocked an average of 1,886 hours in 2022—more than their counterparts in the U.S. (1,811 hours) and the EU average (1,571 hours). John O’Brennan, an EU Law professor from Maynooth University, blasted the move on X (formerly Twitter), calling it “ridiculous” against the backdrop of a global shift towards four-day work weeks.

“It is ridiculous, set against the move to four-day weeks in most civilized countries,” he tweeted, in a social media broadside.

Meanwhile, a report from think tank Autonomy earlier this year found that most companies involved in the world’s largest four-day week trial decided to stick with the shorter schedule. Project managers and CEOs lauded the policy’s positive impact, with over half dubbing it “very positive.”

But, for those where the extra day off was a conditional perk, there were grumbles. Staff in these firms voiced concerns, indicating that the four-day work week dream still has some kinks to iron out.

Greece’s labor shake-up has certainly lit a fire under the debate about work-life balance. Whether this will lead to sun-drenched success or a worker rebellion remains to be seen.

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