Greece’s plans for certain parts of the private sector to enable employees to switch to a 6-day work week, under certain conditions, started on July 1 and the change has quickly attracted the attention of international media for its controversial nature.

Almost all media reports are quick to point out that while much of the world looks to reducing hours or days at the office, Greece seems to be going in the opposite direction.

International media also highlight the fact that research shows that longer hours mean worse performance and a higher risk of burnout.

Some of the major English-speaking media outlets to pick-up on the story include Fortune, CNBC, the Guardian, BBC, DW, and the Washington Post, to name a few.

The reports on the new legislation offer a relatively unfavorable view of the law, characterizing the 6-day work week anywhere from “unorthodox” to “counterproductive”.

And experts interviewed in many of the pieces converge on their view that the Greek law is a “step backwards”.

The Context

Prime Minister Mitsotakis has said that the initiative has been taken due to Greece’s shrinking population and shortage of skilled workers. The legislation was passed in 2023 and faced fierce opposition from labor unions.

Employees of private companies offering certain services will have the option of working more hours per day or an additional 8-hour shift, according to the legislation, in exchange for a 40% higher fee for the extra hours/day.

Mitsotakis claims the law is worker-friendly, but the backlash has been notable, particularly as Greece is a country where employees already work more hours than any other in Europe, according to Eurostat.

Additionally, and connected to the already-long working hours, Greeks are among the least happy in Europe with their limited free time and are among the worst paid in all of Europe.

Meanwhile, Greeks rank the 4th highest in the European Union for risk of poverty, says Eurostat.