Expert shares ‘concern’ for new six-day working week policy

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From July 1, certain sectors in Greece have been allowed to extend their employees’ working week by one day, creating an option for workers who can put in a maximum 48 hours per week instead of 40. The Guardian reported that this can also be brought in by either working an additional day or adding two hours onto each of their five existing work days for the same amount of total hours.

Workers are expected to be paid 40% extra for the additional time they work each week. The change has seemingly sparked concern for Brits with interest in the six-day working week spiking since the legislation was announced and while people director at Higgs LLP Sophie Wardell dubbed the policy “rather concerning”, she insisted Brits have no reason to fear a similar extension right now.

The HR expert noted the move was a response to “the demands of a struggling economy, shrinking population and a shortage of skilled workers”, she highlighted that it also raised “significant concerns about worker rights and well-being”. She claimed that time away from work is “crucial to reduce burnout and stress” and the increase in hours could see an increase in health issues related to this, as well as strained relationships outside of the workplace.

Before the policy was implemented, Greece was well-documented as the European country with the longest working hours, averaging around 41 hours per week. Sophie warned that adding another seven hours to this high average “could be counterproductive” as she cautioned: “This lack of work-life balance could lead to higher rates of fatigue and decreased morale.”

“Overworked individuals may also experience burnout, which can negatively impact both their personal lives and their professional performance, potentially leading to diminished productivity.”

She urged employers to carefully monitor the well-being of their employees during this change and added: “I don’t see an immediate cause for concern in the UK being inspired by Greece’s changes to the working week model. In fact, the current trajectory in the UK suggests that the government would be more likely to pursue the opposite policy: the four-day working week.”

Trials for the four-day workweek have been taking place in businesses across the country this year, and flexible or hybrid work opportunities are still gaining traction both from and employer and worker’s perspective. Sophie added: “Of course, it’s impossible to predict the future, but current trends in UK employment law and business practices suggest that extending the working week is not on the immediate agenda.”