As nations around the globe start warming to the idea of a 4-day work week, Russia is heading in the opposite direction, with the Russian labor ministry officially granting employers the legal right to ask workers in for an extra day.
According to a letter to the labor ministry from a leading business group, the initiative was proposed to deal with the escalating fallout the country is facing from international sanctions and the cost of its invasion of Ukraine.
The policy relies on the consent of employees, but with extra hours worked not being financially accounted for, and Russia's track record with workplace practices being chequered at best, it's uncertain whether the average worker will actually have much of a say. Here's what we know so far.
Russian Business Tycoons Are Calling for a 6–Day Work Week
As Russia's economy continues to buckle under the weight of international sanctions, a Russian business group – The Association of Entrepreneurs for the Development of Commercial Patriotism (Avanti) – has placed pressure on its labor minister to introduce a 6-day working week.
The association, which is comprised of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and a number of top Kremlin officials, launched its official appeal in a letter to the nation's Minister of Labor, Anton Koyakov. In their letter, they cited the positive impact this change would have on the Russian economy, its exports, and its ability to support “technical and technological breakthroughs”.
Trade sanctions have been placed on the Eastern nation since its troops first invaded the former Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014.
“Currently, our financial and economic system’s need for additional investment remains.” – Avanti's letter to Minister of Labor Anton Koyakov
After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Western nations launched a wave of new penalties targeting the state's finances, oil, and gas supplies, individual businesses, and oligarchs.
While Russia is benefiting from lucrative oil exports to nations like China and India, these exports are placing great strain on its economy and driving up the price of living for ordinary citizens. This 6-day work week initiative aims to patch up the cracks in the economy, but unfortunately will be to the detriment of workers, who won't be compensated for the extra day worked.
What's more, with the EU currently discussing its 11th round of sanctions against Russia – which may include the union targeting countries around the world that continue to trade with the Kremlin – it's unlikely that this extra manpower will be enough to recover future losses.
How Many Days Should We Be Working?
As Russia pushes its citizens to work an extra day, the rest of the world seems to be turning the dial in the opposite direction, with a number of leading nations flirting with the idea of a 4-day work week.
The concept has been making major waves globally after the success of an international pilot program which found that the 32-hour work week had a resounding success rate, with 67% of workers feeling less burned-out after the trial period, and the average revenue of businesses raising by 8.15%.
The trial, which was organized by the UK's 4 Day Week Campaign and supported by researchers from Cambridge and Boston University, has kickstarted similar experiments in a number of countries including South Africa, Iceland, Belgium, and Japan.
The US is taking the initiative very seriously too, with 71% of Americans claiming to support the flexible strategy, and Maryland coming within a hairs-breadth of rolling out a “Four Day Work Week Act” earlier this year.