Work Croatia: Four Day Work Week Unlikely to Become Common Any Time Soon

Katarina Anđelković

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As Index writes, in the four-day organisation of the working week, employees work eight hours on four days while receiving wages for five days. The number of working hours per week is therefore reduced from 40 to 32.

The idea of shortening the working week is not so new, and the pioneer, as in many other industrial solutions, was Henry Ford.

In 1926, he shortened the working week in his factories from six to five days. Ford realized that if a worker has a weekend, i.e., two days off, they would want to buy a car to go somewhere. He realized that people need more time to spend the money they earn, and he wanted to sell as many cars as possible to his workers.

The eight-hour workday became a practice in the 1940s

Although many thought such a move would reduce productivity, the opposite happened. Workers have shown greater productivity and loyalty than before.

Ford’s move reverberated across America and sparked many strikes in which workers demanded a five-day work week.

Since the early 1940s, the eight-hour workday and 40-hour work week have become standard practice in various industries worldwide.

This will take decades, but due to the progress of technology, and recently the pandemic and working from home, as well as the abandonment of overtime by millennials and generation Z, the idea of further shortening the work week is starting to gain momentum. In some countries and industries, the lack of workers also forces employers to shorten the working week.

Croatian trade unionists: Strive for a balance between private life and work

The four-day work week is also being discussed in Croatia. A lot of companies have introduced working from home, and most of them are in the IT sector, which allows more work flexibility compared to other industries.

The president of the Independent Croatian Trade Unions, Krešimir Sever, warns that the four-day work week should not be organized into four days of ten working hours.

“After a ten-hour working day, the worker does not have time for anything else in that working day,” says Sever for Hina and points out that the implementation of the four-day working week would only be good if the working hours were shortened from 40 to 32 hours, but he claims that this would be difficult to do in Croatia.

“Employers would not react well because even now they complain when we advocate reducing working hours,” he says.

One should strive for a balance between private life and work because a well-rested man who has time for himself in addition to his work will probably refuse other people’s job offers or if they offer a raise, according to Sever.

Employers: There is no formal obstacle

The Croatian Employers’  Association (HUP) says that the introduction of a four-day work week has long been allowed, but the Labor Act defines a full working week as 40 hours, and the employer can divide it into four, five, or six days.

If the employer wants to introduce a four-day work week, they say there are no obstacles to that.

“If there is an agreement between the employee and the employer to work 35 hours a week, or four days a week, there is no reason to prevent such work organization by legal provisions; however, the same should apply to the agreement if there is an interest of both parties, to work even more working hours than ‘prescribed'”, they say from HUP.

They note that the pandemic accelerated digitalization and brought significant changes in work organization, such as remote work, and a greater understanding of the balance between private life and work.

The development of technology has brought platform work, job or employee sharing, casual work, or voucher work. All these forms of work are a reality, and should not be administratively restricted, says the HUP.

“At the same time, we face a significant labor shortage, primarily due to demographic processes. In such a situation, it is necessary to enable significantly greater flexibility for workers and employers,” they said.

HUP: Croats actually work 37.5 hours a week

That is why HUP insists on adopting new legal solutions that will reflect the actual situation in the labor market.

Since Croatia is oriented towards tourism, employers say it is difficult to shorten the working week due to the smaller workforce.

“All this, of course, should not prevent companies that realize a shift in productivity and can offer more flexible working conditions to reduce the number of working days and thus invest in the satisfaction of their employees,” they say in HUP.

They note that in Croatia, the daily break is included in the working hours, which is not the case in most other EU countries, so Croats actually currently formally work 37.5 hours a week.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.


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