News: Greece sparks debate with six-day workweek

Life @ Work

Greece sparks debate with six-day workweek

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's pro-business government calls the new regulation, which bucks the global shorter workweek trend, 'worker-friendly' and 'growth-oriented', but unions and analysts sharply criticise it.
Greece sparks debate with six-day workweek

While companies around the world are experimenting with shorter workweeks, Greece is taking the opposite approach. In an unorthodox move aimed at boosting productivity, the nation has implemented a six-day workweek, effectively requiring most employees to put in an extra day of labour.

This bold step comes as Greece works to recover from a financial crisis. However, the new 48-hour workweek is facing fierce criticism from unions, who have labelled it "barbaric" and detrimental to worker well-being.

The introduction of a six-day workweek sparks debate raising questions about economic gains versus employee well-being.

In a bold move that defies the global trend towards reduced work hours, Greece has enacted a controversial new labour law introducing a six-day workweek. This policy, spearheaded by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's pro-business government, has ignited intense debate across the nation.

Also read: How India aims to bridge gender gap in workforce

The legislation, which pairs the extended workweek with flexible working hours, has met fierce resistance from both labour unions and political opponents. The ruling New Democracy party pushed the law through parliament with 158 votes in favour, while all other parties in the 300-member legislature stood in unified opposition.

This radical shift in labour policy represents a significant gamble for Greece's economic future. The government argues that this measure will modernise Greek labour practices and stimulate economic growth, but critics warn of potential negative impacts on workers' well-being and productivity,  as reported by the Greek City Times.  

However, the specifics of the legislation raise concerns. Employees can now hold a part-time second job while working full-time, potentially leading to gruelling workweeks of 65 hours (five-day) or a staggering 78 hours (six-day).  

Giorgos Katsambekis, a lecturer at Loughborough University, called the Greek government's new labour law “a major step back” for a workforce already working the EU's longest hours.  

The government's rationale hinges on the belief that a longer workweek translates to increased output. This could potentially stimulate the Greek economy, still grappling with the aftershocks of a financial crisis. However, the relationship between working hours and productivity is not always linear. 

Research suggests that beyond a certain point, additional hours can lead to diminishing returns due to fatigue, decreased focus, and employee burnout. 

Another justification for the policy is to address the labour shortage plaguing Greece, particularly in specific sectors. The six-day week could incentivise existing workers to take on additional hours, filling some of the gaps. However, this approach comes at a cost. The prospect of longer work hours might deter employees from joining the workforce, further exacerbating the problem in the long run. 

Disgruntled employees working longer hours might lead to increased turnover, potentially outweighing any short-term benefits.

The human cost 

The most significant concern lies in the potential impact on work-life balance. Adding an extra workday significantly reduces leisure time, impacting mental well-being and potentially leading to burnout. Studies have shown that longer work hours are linked to increased stress, fatigue, and even cardiovascular issues.  

Greece's economic woes demand innovative solutions. Focusing solely on extending work hours overlooks the potential benefits of improved work efficiency and technological advancements. Investments in automation, streamlining workflows, and employee training could yield more sustainable productivity gains.

The success of this policy hinges on effective implementation. Clear exemptions for certain sectors and employee rights need to be established. Robust enforcement mechanisms are crucial to ensure businesses comply with compensation and employee well-being regulations. 

Ongoing monitoring and evaluation are necessary to assess the long-term impact of the six-day workweek on productivity, employee well-being, and economic growth. Only through such a comprehensive approach can Greece determine if this bold experiment yields the desired economic benefits without sacrificing the health and well-being of its workforce.

Greece's six-day workweek might offer a short-term economic boost, but the potential negative consequences on work-life balance and employee health cannot be ignored.  

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Topics: Life @ Work, Culture, #Future of Work, #Wellbeing

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