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EU nation adopts six-day working week

Greece is trying to tackle shrinking productivity amid an exodus of skilled workers 

The Greek government has allowed more businesses to impose a six-day working week on their employees in a bid to bolster the country’s struggling economy. Greece is the first member of the European Union to introduce the measure.

Under the legislation, which entered effect on July 1, the six-day scheme will be limited to private businesses providing services within 24 hours, as well as those experiencing an exceptional workload. People engaged in the food service and tourism sectors are exempt from longer workweeks.

Under the extended workweeks, employees in certain industries and manufacturing facilities have the right to choose between working an additional two hours a day or an extra eight-hour shift. Employees will receive 40% extra pay for their sixth working day, or 115% more if they work on Sundays and holidays.

According to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the measure is expected to help the government combat steadily declining productivity related to a shrinking population and a shortage of skilled workers.

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“The core of this legislation is worker-friendly, deeply growth-oriented,” Mitsotakis said after the Greek parliament approved the law several months ago. 

Productivity has been among the biggest issues for the Greek economy since it plunged into a steep recession following the debt crisis of 2009, which triggered a major rise in unemployment as many businesses went bust. 

Data tracked by the European Commission shows that nominal labor productivity per working hour in Greece is nearly 40% lower than the EU average. Eurostat figures for 2023 revealed that the average working week in the country is 39.8 hours, the highest in the bloc, followed by Romania and Cyprus. With a minimum monthly wage of €830 ($887), Greece ranks 15th in the EU in this respect. In terms of purchasing power, it ranks second to last in the bloc.

In 2023, the average working week in the EU was 36.1 hours.

July 02, 2024 at 06:59PM
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