Can Greece’s new six-day workweek be a mannequin for others? – DW – 06/22/2024 | EUROtoday

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For most individuals, labor legislation will be boring. But when somebody suggests working an additional day, folks begin to concentrate.

In Greece, new rules are coming into impact on July 1 that make this potential.

After that day sure industrial and manufacturing services, in addition to companies offering 24/7 companies, can transfer to a six-day workweek as a substitute of the standard 5, says Emmanouil Savoidakis, head of the labor legislation observe at Politis & Partners, a legislation agency based mostly in Athens that focuses on enterprise legislation. Tourism and meals service industries are excluded from this new association.

For these impacted, it will imply a regular authorized workweek of 48 hours as a substitute of the earlier 40. In principle, staff can select to work extra if corporations need them to. Those who work extra will even be paid extra.

The Greek authorities says the brand new guidelines will simplify administration, scale back probation intervals to 6 months and shine a lightweight on time beyond regulation.

The laws can be supposed to assist fill holes within the skilled-labor market by combating undeclared work and providing incentives like free worker coaching to assist “upskill and adapt to evolving market demands,” mentioned Savoidakis, who has over 15 years of authorized expertise. Importantly “the six-day workweek is not universally applicable but is restricted to certain business sectors.”

Can this be a job mannequin for different international locations?

Two tourists standing in front of the Parthenon in Greece under an umbrella to avoid the hot sun
Tourism makes up a giant a part of the Greek financial system and it’s affected by an absence of certified staffImage: Petros Giannakouris/AP/image alliance

Putting in roughly hours on the workplace

Greece has many challenges like low wages, excessive unemployment and a declining inhabitants, however it’s not alone. Yet working extra stands in stark distinction to most of its European neighbors.

Companies in a number of international locations like Germany, Belgium, France, the UK, Spain and Iceland have been experimenting with totally different workweek fashions.  Either squeezing the 40-hour week into 4 days of extra intense 10-hour days. Or merely getting 100% of the work achieved in simply 80% of the time, whereas nonetheless receiving a full wage.

Earlier this yr in Germany, the nationwide railway firm Deutsche Bahn and the practice drivers’ union agreed to progressively scale back the usual workweek from 38 to 35 hours. Demands for a shorter workweek are being made in different sectors as effectively.

A Greek restoration from dangerous occasions

Greece although is taking one other path. And this is not the primary time the nation has been confronted with a six-day workweek. During their debt disaster, which began in 2009 and practically acquired the nation kicked out of the eurozone, some lenders demanded that the Greeks work extra.

The nation accepted bailouts value billions of euros that got here with strict austerity measures. Yet, a sixth day of labor was not launched.

Now Greece is again on monitor and GDP progress is anticipated to be 2.2% this yr and a pair of.3% subsequent yr, above the eurozone common, in keeping with European Commission calculations launched in mid-May. Unemployment is anticipated to fall from a forecast 10.3% this yr to 9.7% in 2025.

Still, throughout the previous decade many younger, well-educated Greeks have left the nation as a result of they noticed higher alternatives overseas. The inhabitants is anticipated to shrink from 10.7 million in 2019 to round 10.4 million in 2029, worsening an current scarcity of expert staff in some sectors like agriculture, tourism and development.

At the identical time, Greeks already put in a few of the longest hours per yr, in keeping with the OECD. Although the OECD numbers are generally troublesome to match, the development is obvious. Greeks work considerably greater than their counterparts within the UK, the US and Germany.

Making the legislation replicate a Greek actuality

On the constructive aspect, the minimal month-to-month wage for white-collar staff rose to €830 ($887) from April 1, up from €650 in 2019. The common month-to-month wage is now round €1,250, and the Greek prime minister lately introduced he plans to convey it as much as €1,500 by 2027.

But these wage will increase don’t make up for earlier wage reductions and protracted excessive inflation which have pressured many voters to work two jobs to make ends meet, says Jens Bastian from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.

The new rules simply “retroactively adjust the legal context to the reality existing in the Greek labor market for years,” he mentioned, which merely means many individuals already work greater than 5 days.

Working longer and incomes extra might even “land various employees in higher personal income tax and social security brackets, thus neutralizing prospective wage gains by working longer hours,” Bastian advised DW.

Structural change as a substitute of longer hours

Moreover, the brand new rules give employers plenty of sway. Can jobseekers refuse the supply and stick with their present five-day workweek?

“The negotiations between employer and employee can include the former demanding and the latter refusing to work longer,” mentioned Bastian.

In Greece, many working time preparations lack commerce union illustration, particularly at small and medium-sized corporations. “Keeping your job may be the bigger incentive than refusing to work longer hours at the insistence of the employer,” Bastian mentioned.

Emmanouil Savoidakis from the Politis & Partners legislation agency in Athens says a number of company purchasers are already curious about a six-day workweek “to enhance their operational capacity and better serve their customers, particularly those in industries facing labor shortages and high seasonal demand.” He might see it rolled out in companies with fluctuating workloads like retail, manufacturing and well being care.

Much of that is only a short-term repair although. A six-day workweek cannot clear up Greece’s broader financial issues, mentioned Bastian. Longer working hours will not make up for lacking personnel in the long run and different international locations ought to listen.

Greece must make structural adjustments that embody “incentives such as viable career trajectories, equal opportunity and higher wages that reflect people’s professional expertise,” mentioned Bastian.

“In that respect, Greece has a long and winding road to go until it catches up with most other countries in Europe. Working longer hours and Saturday is akin to taking a road in the opposite direction,” he concluded.

Edited by: Ashutosh Pandey