In a significant shift from global trends, Greece has introduced a six-day workweek for some companies, aiming to improve productivity and employment. The new rule, effective July 1, is part of a broader labor law reform passed last year.

The policy allows employees of private companies that offer 24-hour services to extend their work week from the traditional 40 hours to 48 hours. However, sectors such as hospitality and tourism are excluded from this change.

The pro-business administration of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis defends the measure as «worker-friendly» and «growth-oriented.» The government argues it will help workers receive adequate overtime pay and combat the problem of undeclared work.

The introduction of the policy has met with sharp criticism from unions and political analysts. Giorgos Katsambekis, a lecturer in European and international politics at Loughborough University, labelled the move «a major setback» for Greek workers, who already clock the longest hours in the European Union.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that in 2022, Greek employees worked an average of 1,886 hours per year, exceeding the averages of the United States (1,811 hours) and the EU (1,571 hours).

John O’Brennan, professor of European Union law at Maynooth University in Ireland, criticized the decision on social media, noting that Greeks could now be forced to work a sixth day, in stark contrast to the adoption of the four-day working week in many other countries.

A recent report from think tank Autonomy highlighted the success of the four-day workweek in several global trials, with most participating companies making the policy permanent. The report found that a shorter workweek has generally had a positive impact on organizations, although some employees have expressed concerns when the additional day off has not been firmly secured.

As Greece embarks on this controversial path, the long-term effects on its workforce and economy remain to be seen.