2020.04.30 15:58

Longer weekends? Lithuanian PM suggests it may improve efficiency

BNS 2020.04.30 15:58

Lithuania may consider having 2.5-day weekends to improve productivity and promote consumption, according to Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

“I would like to have such a discussion in the public, especially in regards to those groups of workers who are under huge psychological pressure, [...] like medics and social workers,” the prime minister said in the parliament on Thursday.

He said that one shorter workday a week could improve efficiency. However, if it would lead to shortages in some sectors, “the state would hire more people”.

Lithuania's ambassador to China, Ina Marčiulionytė, said in a recent teleconference that Beijing was considering the 2.5-day weekend as a measure to encourage domestic consumption.

“Different provinces are issuing their vouchers which are valid for one week,” Marčiulionytė said.

Trade unions have commended the prime minister's suggestion about shorter working week, while employer representatives say discussions should not start until after the coronavirus-induced economic crisis.

"We could talk about a shorter workweek or a shorter workday by an hour or so, since work is getting more intense, requires more emotional and intellectual exertion, while recovering takes more time,” Danas Arlauskas, the president of the Lithuanian Employers Association told BNS.

However, a crisis is not the time to think about stimulating consumption without considering who is going to be making the money, he added.

Meanwhile Kristina Krupavičienė, the president of the Solidarumas trade union, said the idea was good, but it might be difficult to implement in some industries.

“There are a number of companies in Lithuania where people already work only until afternoon on Fridays and that does not cut productivity [...]. But there are also companies that require overtime and work around the clock,” she said.

Moreover, people at the moment would probably not have enough disposable income to spend during longer weekends, she added.