Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Greece Passes Six-Day Work Week

Nicholas Zalewski
Greek flag waiving over the nation. Source: Greek City Times

While many European nations have moved to shorter workweeks, Greek Prime Minister Mītsotakīs is taking a radically different approach. Rather than cutting workdays, Prime Minister Mītsotakīs introduced a six-day work week which started as of July 1st of this year. This move has been criticized as rather than making it an option for employees. Employers can make it mandatory to work six days a week. It is also important to note that rather than split up a 40-hour work week amongst six days, employers may simply require workers to work another 8 hours on the sixth day. Employers will have to pay them 40 percent extra as it will be considered overtime due to 40 hours still being considered the standard work week, simply that employers can add an additional day legally at a higher hourly rate.

There is concern about whether this will be respected or not, as critics of the Prime Minister allege that there are not enough inspections to ensure that employers are following labor law. Currently, there is also a loophole allowing employers to force employees to work up to two hours for free a day in exchange for time off later. This is supposed to be on a voluntary basis, but it is believed that employees are being forced to simply work longer without just compensation. Greece’s unemployment rate has been improving, currently standing at 10,7 percent for the month of May 2024, down from a record high of 27,5 percent in 2013. Despite this improvement, Greece still has the second highest unemployment rate in the European Union, only lower than Spain 11.7 percent in May 2024.

Clock with Greek flag in front of a calendar. Source: Greek Boston

Pain of Greek Workers

While there is praise to give regarding Greece’s economic recovery, Greek workers are still struggling. The nation has been paying back its loans quicker than expected, but workers are struggling with inflation and the loss of rights. Greek workers also work an average of 41 hours a week, more than workers in any other European Union member state. The minimum wage is 830 euros a month, putting Greece in 14th place out of 22 EU member states which have a minimum wage (Austria, Denmark, Finland Italy, and Sweden do not have a minimum wage). With a lower minimum wage than several other member states, workers may choose to migrate elsewhere within the European Union if they continue to lose worker protections. If employees wanted to work more hours they should be permitted to, but the issue is many workers may be forced to if they want to keep their jobs.

To be fair to Greece, it is not the only European Union member state looking to have workers work for longer hours. However, Germany is exploring a different approach. In Germany, there is a proposal to give workers a tax incentive to work longer hours, by giving them a tax break on overtime. This is easier said than done though as German train workers pushed to have their average weekly hours reduced to 35 hours from 38 within the next five years. Despite being the largest EU economy, the German economy is one of the weakest when examined using the measure of economic growth. The Netherlands is also exploring tax incentives to encourage workers to work full time, rather than part time as many workers currently do. The Dutch government hopes to improve child care and parental leave for workers, in exchange for working more hours.

average annual hours worked in Europe. Source: Landgeist


While Greece needs workers to fill vacancies, it may be more beneficial to incentivize workers to work longer hours, rather than legislate it and repeal rights from workers. There needs to be a balance between economic growth and the wellbeing of employees. If Greece allows employers to treat employees too poorly, they may search for work elsewhere within the European Union, causing further labor problems for Greece. Greece must remember that workers can seek work elsewhere in the bloc, thanks to the freedom of movement. Unfavorable conditions for workers will also make it difficult for the nation to attract workers from other member states, making migration unidirectional, only out of Greece. As Greece’s population continues to age, the nation cannot afford to chase workers away with unappealing labor conditions. While the nation has such a high unemployment rate, Prime Minister Mītsotakīs should focus on trying to get employers to hire more employees, rather than overburdening their current employees by forcing them to work 20 percent more hours per week. As it stands, Prime Minister Mītsotakīs appears to be attempting to resolve economic issues with short term solutions, rather than sustainable solutions.

Please Read The Following For More Information:

Bali, Kaki. “Greece introduces the six-day work week”. Deutsche Welle.21 June 2024.

“For Many Greeks, Six-Day 48-Hour Work Week Now Set to Begin”.The National Herald. 23 June 2024.

Zalewski, Nicholas. “Let’s Tune In To The EU’s Periphery: Greece’s Second Economic Miracle”. The New Global Order. 30 December 2023.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let’s Tune In To Th…

by Nicholas Zalewski time to read: 3 min