Armenian Government May Extend Workweek

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian government gave on Thursday conditional approval to three parliamentarians’ proposal to increase from five to six days the length of a regular workweek in the country.

The country’s existing Labor Code bans public and private entities from keeping their employees in the workplace for more than 40 hours a week, spread over five days, without overtime pay.

Amendments to the code drafted by deputy parliament speaker Samvel Balasanian and two other pro-government lawmakers — Hakob Hakobian, and Sukias Avetisian — would significantly ease this restriction. In particular, employers would be able to summon their staff to work for six days a week without extra compensation.

The government said it would back the amendments on the condition that a six-day working week can apply to workers employed in several specific spheres. Among them are the healthcare, telecommunications and energy sectors.

Hakobian, who chairs the parliament committee on social affairs, found these conditions “acceptable.” He insisted that Armenians would still have to work for a total of up to 40 hours a week and receive additional pay for overtime work. There would also be no changes in overtime pay rates set by the Labor Code, he said.

“We are only talking about two things. Forty hours [of work] over five working days a week, with two days off, or 40 hours over six working days a week, with one day off,” Hakobian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Under Armenian law, the government needs to receive a written “impact assessment” of the measure from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs before it can formally endorse the amendment. The Prime Minister indicated that it will be positive.

“I think the impact assessment will be easy in this case as we would be returning to the old regime,” Tigran Sargsyan said during a weekly session of his cabinet.

Private firms operating in Armenia routinely violate legal working-hour limits and other worker rights, capitalizing on high unemployment and a virtual absence of functioning trade unions. It is not uncommon for Armenians fearing arbitrary dismissal to work for ten or more hours a day and have only one day off a week.

Many private sector employees are also unable to fully enjoy at least 24 days of paid vacation guaranteed by the Labor Code for the same reason.

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5 Comments

  1. manooshag said:

    Serge’s leadership does it again.. add more hours and not more pay… Armenia regresses in so many ways with the inept and incapable governors. Serge, look around the world… only repressed and retarded nations go backwards with their citizens… Enlightened nations advance and seek to better the lives of their citizens.
    Serge, Sergo, et al… resign… you hare damaging our fledgling Armenian nation. Manooshag

  2. Gagik said:

    I am wondering, do the two commentators above me know how to read or just have a problem with comprehension? Nobody is increasing work hours, it is just a proposal to divide those hours between six days rather than five, thus working one more day but less each day. Besides, this would only affect healthcare and other emergency fields, which must be ready 24/7.
    I am not saying that I am for it or against, just trying to explain to my lesser brained compatriots who, like Manooshag, do not miss a chance to spew out insults and hatred at the Armenian government without analyzing the issue.

  3. Aram said:

    Gagik, spreading the same number of hours over 6 days v. 5 days in fact does create more work without pay. What about the time getting ready to go to work, and to drive there and back? What about having two free days to yourself. When will Armenians stand up against this abuse from other Armenians in power? We are our own worse enemies.

  4. Abo said:

    Aram you are right but think also that the they dont keep the 40 hours they work more!!
    so its better from nothing but they should send people to see if the companies keep the labor code…they should give people more money and take taxes from the rich !!

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