Greece imposes a 6-day work week, lengthens the day and makes schedules more flexible

The reform approved this Friday thanks to the conservative majority in the Greek Parliament allows companies to impose a sixth working day, on Saturdays or Sundays, and vary employee schedules 24 hours in advance to adapt to production needs. The law was approved thanks to the 158 seats, out of a total of 300, that the conservative New Democracy, of the prime minister, had after the elections last June. Kyriakos Mitsotakiswhile all opposition parties, from the extreme right to the radical left, voted against.

Reform allows workers to voluntarily have a second job, of a maximum of five hours a day, together with their main activity of eight hours a day. In addition, it establishes that companies in various sectors can impose a sixth working day for which workers will receive an additional 40% on the daily salary.

Likewise, it introduces contracts for “on-call employees” who will have practically no fixed hours but will work when their employer requires it, as long as they are notified at least 24 hours in advance. Yesterday, Thursday, Thousands of people across Greece protested against the new lawwithin a 24-hour strike that was called by ADEDY, the civil servants’ union, and to which workers’ unions from various sectors joined.

According to them, The law will eliminate the last remaining labor rights in Greece, like the five-day and eight-hour day. The reform also contemplates that companies that adopt a digital time control system will not be required to previously register changes in the working day or overtime on a State electronic platform, as was the case until now.

According to the Government, this will reduce the excessive administrative burden on companies, and argues that working hours are already recorded in the internal systems of each company. However, the unions denounce that without this state control, companies will be able to manipulate schedules and be exempt from paying overtime.

Workers’ representatives warn that the reform plans to strengthen labor inspections, a service that is already faces a major staff shortage. During an intervention in Parliament prior to the vote, the Minister of Labor, Adonis Georgiadis, defended his bill, and assured that “it neither eliminates the eight-hour day nor the five-day (week).”

“Today the labor market is a jungle,” said Georgiadis, who stressed that the law addresses this disorder, making the schedule more flexible to reduce work and undeclared overtime and thus protect workers. The law also makes it mandatory to publish all individual contracts between employer and worker on a State digital platform and will make it possible for the first time to sign these contracts electronically.

This is not the first time that a Government headed by Mitsotakis introduces labor changes that provoke social protest. In 2021, his previous Government presented a bill that eliminated the maximum limit of eight hours of work per day, while respecting 40 hours per week. The reform, which was approved thanks to the absolute majority that New Democracy also enjoyed then, also extended the permitted annual overtime hours from a maximum of 120 to 150.

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