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Russian parliament to consider 4-day workweek

Russian parliament to consider 4-day workweek
The Russian Lower House committee for labor plans to discuss the International Labor Organization’s suggestion to switch to a 4-day working week without cutting workers’ salaries, the head of the body has told the press.

Popular business daily Kommersant on Tuesday quoted MP Andrey Isayev (United Russia) as saying that this week the State Duma will hold a roundtable to discuss the suggestion of ILO team leader Jon Messenger who detailed the benefits of the shorter work week in an article posted on the group’s web-site.

He claimed that a 4-day workweek would make people healthier and happier, create more jobs and increase the productivity of a single worker. Messenger also wrote that shorter working hours would help fight environmental pollution.

Earlier this year the head of the Virgin Group Richard Branson, Google CEO Larry Page and other prominent businessmen also voiced their support of a shorter working week.

Commenting on the proposal, Isayev said it was possible that Russia would introduce a 36-hour work week instead of the current 40-hour as this would allow to better regulate the process and prevent employers from forcing staff to work longer hours after the number of workdays in a week is cut.

However, on Tuesday afternoon Deputy PM Olga Golodets who oversees labor, healthcare and social issues told the RIA Novosti news agency that she did not see any possibility of introducing a 4-day work week in Russia.

At present time we cannot afford this. A 4-day work week is still a dream for us,” she said, adding that Russian labor laws were up to date and ranked pretty high in the world in regard to paid vacations or maternity leave.

In recent months some sectors of the Russian economy, like the automobile industry have to cut jobs due to sharply falling demand. However, the national unemployment rate remains low and fell from 4.9 to 4.8 percent in August.