These countries have a less than 5 days work week and India may join the list soon

Dec 23, 2021

By: Vaamanaa Sethi


In June 2021, Japan’s government announced its plans to urge employers to initiate a four-day work week instead of five days. The plan was finalised by the Japan PM Yoshihide Suga, in order to bring work-life balance and to improve employees productivity.

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New Zealand

Last year, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern suggested employers consider a four-day working week and other flexible working options as a way to boost tourism and help employees address persistent work/life balance issues.

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The Netherlands, a country with only 3.3 percent unemployment rate, has one of the shortest work weeks with 29 hours. Typical working hours for women is 25 hours a week while for men is maximum 34 hours a week.

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A four-day week programme was launched in Ireland, in which more than 20 companies have so far enrolled. The programme is about trialing a reduction of working hours from February 2022.

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Iceland took a four-day work week trial between 2015 to 2019 and it was found to be an absolute success. The employees were paid the same amount of money for shorter hours and the productivity remained the same or improved in some workplaces.

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Recently, in December only, the UAE government announced its decision to transition to a 4.5 day work week from next year onwards. Employees will be given afternoon Friday and consistent weekends off.

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As the pandemic sharpened the issues of burnout and work-life balance, Spain was among one of the first countries this year to trial the four-day working week.

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The largest trade union of the country proposed a four-day week to limit job losses in the automobile industry last year.

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India is also following the same path and might switch to a four-day work week in their new labour codes.

However, employees may have to work 12 hours a day as the ministry made it very clear.

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