Greece Enforces Six-Day Work Week for Certain Industries

Image by Andrzej from Pixabay

Many private sector workers in Greece will now face a six-day work week under new legislation from the New Democracy government, starting July 1, according to The National Herald. 


The official work week remains 40 hours, but employers can require up to two additional unpaid hours per day for a limited period in exchange for more free time. 


Although this extra work is supposed to be voluntary, in practice, it often is not.


The official reason for the move is a shortage of skilled workers in Greece, exacerbated by a shrinking population and the emigration of many workers during the economic crisis.


This change is in contrast to other European Union (EU) countries, like Germany, which are moving towards shorter work weeks.


It also marks a notable shift in the country’s labour regulations, where collective agreements have been suspended and many workers are employed under individual contracts. 


  • The new legislation mandates that many workers in industries such as retail, agriculture, and some services work six days a week if required by their employers, with a promised 40% overtime bonus for the sixth day. 
  • This change does not apply to Members of Parliament, public sector workers, or those covered by frozen collective bargaining agreements.
  • Tourism and hospitality sectors are excluded since their five-day work week was already abolished in 2023, to attract tourists throughout the entire year.


  • From 2010 to 2018, Greece experienced an economic and austerity crisis that resulted in a freeze on the minimum wage. 
  • To navigate this period, the country had to secure three international successive bailout packages, totalling €289 billion (US$330 billion) in from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, according to a BBC report.
  • Over 400,000 people left the country, and by 2013, the unemployment rate reached a peak of 27.5%, soaring to 58% among those under 25 years old.
  • Greeks work more hours than anyone else in the 27-member European Union, including the United States, averaging 41 hours per week, yet they are among the EU’s lowest-paid and highest-taxed, according to a Eurostat survey.
  • Although the minimum wage has been increased twice since the 2010-18 economic crisis, it remains only 830 euros (US$887) monthly, insufficient to cover rising living costs. 

Concerns About the 6-day Work Week:

  • The new workweek structure is noted to give businesses total control over workers, giving them all the power in individual negotiations. 
  • It is warned that relaxed laws could eliminate minimum labour protections, creating unjust labour relations. 
  • The longer work week is also warned to increase the risk of industrial accidents, which rose significantly in 2023, prompting union protests.

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