Bulgaria's Long Working Week Linked to Low Incomes

Photo: Stella Ivanova

Bulgaria stands out among European Union countries for having one of the longest average working weeks, clocking in at 39 hours compared to the EU average of just over 36 hours per week, according to the latest data from Eurostat. Only Greece exceeds Bulgaria with nearly 40 hours, while Romania and Poland also exceed 39 hours weekly, reports the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR). Conversely, the Netherlands boasts one of the shortest working weeks in the EU, averaging just over 32 hours.

Trade unionists attribute Bulgaria's lengthy working hours primarily to low incomes among workers. Velichka Mikova, national secretary of the National Labor and Social Security Council and an expert in labor law, pointed out in an interview for the BNR that many Bulgarian workers exceed the standard 8-hour workday or 40-hour workweek to supplement their earnings with additional hours.

"The main reason for the longer working week in Bulgaria is the low wages," Mikova emphasized.

She noted that other EU countries have begun experimenting with alternative work models like the 4-day work week, citing initiatives in Spain, Belgium, and Germany. Mikova clarified that these efforts are not mere trials but are backed by state-supported economic actions, particularly through the State Recovery and Resilience Plans.

In Bulgaria, discussions about adopting a shorter working week have surfaced, but Mikova highlighted that serious negotiations between social partners have not yet taken place to explore reducing working hours while safeguarding workers' rights.

Mikova also discussed evolving workplace practices, such as flexible telecommuting arrangements. She explained recent legislative updates that allow teleworkers to operate from multiple locations...

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