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Greece Introduces Controversial Six-Day Workweek 

Oia Greece

Greece has become the first EU country to introduce a six-day working week for certain businesses to boost productivity and employment. 

Effective from July 1, the regulation is part of a broader set of labor laws passed last year. 

It aims to extend the traditional 40-hour workweek to 48 hours for some sectors.

Under the new legislation, employees of private businesses providing round-the-clock services can work an additional two hours per day or an extra eight-hour shift. 

However, this initiative excludes workers in food service and tourism.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' pro-business government describes the measure as “worker-friendly” and “growth-oriented.” 

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The goal is to ensure fair pay for overtime work and address the issue of undeclared labor. 

“It is ridiculous, set against the move to four day weeks in most civilised countries”

Despite government support, the move has faced sharp criticism from labor unions and political observers.

Giorgos Katsambekis, a lecturer at Loughborough University, called the law “a major step back” for a workforce already logging the longest hours in the EU. 

Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows Greek employees worked an average of 1,886 hours in 2022.

It surpassed the US average of 1,811 hours and the EU average of 1,571 hours.

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John O’Brennan, a professor of EU Law at Maynooth University in Ireland, said: “Greek people already work the longest hours per week in Europe. 

“Now they may be forced to work a sixth day, after this Greek [government] decision.”

He added: “It is ridiculous, set against the move to four day weeks in most civilised countries.”

A report from the think tank Autonomy found that most companies participating in the world’s largest four-day workweek trial made the policy permanent. 

The report highlighted that project managers and CEOs saw positive effects from the shorter workweek, with more than half describing the impact as “very positive.” 

Concerns were noted only in firms where the additional day off was conditional or weakly guaranteed.

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