Workweek and weekend

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The workweek and weekend are those complementary parts of the week devoted to labour and rest respectively. The legal working week (British English), or workweek (U.S. English), is the part of the seven-day week devoted to labour. In most Western countries it is Monday to Friday. The weekend comprises the two traditionally non-working days in the seven-day week. What constitutes the working week is mandated either by law or custom. In Christian tradition, Sunday is the "Lord's Day" and the day of rest and worship. Jewish Shabbat or Biblical Sabbath lasts from sunset on Friday to the fall of full darkness on Saturday. The French Revolutionary Calendar had ten-day weeks and allowed decadi, one out of the ten days, as a leisure day.

The present-day concept of the weekend first arose from the Dies Solis (Day of the Sun) decreed by Constantine and from Biblical Sabbath. The weekend in Western countries comprises Saturday and Sunday, when most employees do not have to work. The Christian Sabbath itself was just one day each week, but the preceding day (the Jewish Sabbath) also came to be taken as a holiday in the twentieth century. This shift has been accompanied by a reduction in the total number of hours worked per week, following the growth of the labor movement and changes in employer expectations. Proposals have continued to be put forward for further reductions in the number of days or hours worked per week, on the basis of predicted social and economic benefits.



In cultures with a seven-day week, the day of rest derives from the main religious tradition: Sunday (Christian), Saturday (Jewish), or Friday (Muslim).

The American concept of the weekend has its roots in labor union attempts to accommodate Jewish workers who took Saturday instead of Sunday as their Sabbath.[1] The first five-day work week was instituted by a New England cotton mill for this reason[citation needed].

In 1926 Henry Ford began shutting down his automotive factories for all of Saturday and Sunday. In 1929 the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America was the first union to demand a five-day work week and receive it. After that, the rest of the United States slowly followed, but it wasn't until 1940 that the two-day weekend began nationwide.[citation needed]


Actual work week lengths have been falling in the developed world.[2]

In the United States, the work week length reduced slowly from before the Civil War to the turn of the 20th century. A rapid reduction took place from 1900 to 1920, especially between 1913 and 1919 when weekly hours fell about eight percent.[3] In 1926, Henry Ford standardized on a five-day workweek, instead of the prevalent six days, without reducing employees' pay.[4] Hours worked stabilized at about 49 per week during the 1920s, and during the Great Depression fell below 40.[3] During the Depression, President Herbert Hoover called for a reduction in work hours in lieu of layoffs. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established a five-day, 40-hour workweek for many workers.[4] The proportion of people working very long weeks has since risen, and the full-time employment of women has increased dramatically.[5] Hours worked per capita in the US increased 20 percent from 1970 to 2002.[6]

The New Economics Foundation has recommended moving to a 21 hour standard work week to address problems with unemployment, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, overworking, family care, and the general lack of free time.[4][7][8][9][10][11] Other economists are concerned that shortening the work week will unfairly limit individual earning potential and weaken developed economies due to competition from the less regulated developing world.[6]

Around the world

(Countries are listed alphabetically, only some appear under the subsections for Islamic countries and the European Union.)


The workweek in Chile begins on Monday and ends on Saturday with a half-day, 45 hours per week, with Sunday being the weekend. Schools, however, only operate Monday to Friday and close on Saturday and Sunday.


In China, the working week begins on Monday and ends on Friday. China began the two-day Saturday-Sunday weekend in 1995. Most government workers work 5 days a week (including officials and industrial management). On average, most manufacturing facilities operate on Saturdays as well. Normally, the Chinese consider the week beginning with Monday and ending with Sunday. However, most shops as well as the museums and cinemas are open on Saturday and Sunday. Commercial establishments including consumer banking and consumer telecommunication branches are generally open throughout the weekend and also on most public holidays.


In general, Colombia has a 48 working hours workweek. Depending on the business, people work 5 days for about 9.6 hours a day, typically Monday through Friday, or 6 days for 8 hours a day (Monday through Saturday).


The workweek is Monday through Friday; 8 hours per day, 40 hours in total per week. Large malls are open on Saturday and Sunday, many small shops close on Sunday. Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East with a Western-style calendar.


In Europe, the standard full-time working week begins on Monday and ends on Friday. Most retail shops are open for business on Saturday. In Ireland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and the former communist states of Europe, large shopping centres open on Sunday, however in the Netherlands this is still somewhat controversial, as some political parties, especially the SGP,[12] tend to disagree with it. In some European countries such as Germany and Denmark, there are laws regulating open hours for shops. Shops must, with exceptions, be closed from midnight until the early morning and on Sundays.


The work week is Monday through Friday, although Friday is usually a half-day. Shops are open on Saturdays. Almost no shops are open on Sundays, as this is not allowed by law. However, exceptions to this have been made in Vienna.


The work week is Monday through Friday; 8 hours per day, 40 hours in total per week. Most pharmacies, shops, bars, cafes and restaurants are open on Saturdays and Sundays.

Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the work week is usually from Monday to Friday, 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week as a full-time job. Lots of shops and restaurants are open on Saturdays and Sundays, but employees still usually work 40 hours per week.


Denmark has an official 37 hours working week with primary working hours between 6:00-18:00, Monday to Friday. In public institutions, a 30 minutes lunch break every day is included as per collective agreements, so that the actual required working time is 34.5 hours. In private companies, the 30 minutes lunch break is normally not included.[13]


In Estonia, the working week begins on Monday and ends on Friday. Usually a working week is 40 hours.


In Finland, the working week begins on Monday and ends on Friday. A full-time job is defined by law as being at least 32 and at most 40 hours a week. For some professions, e.g. salespersons in retail shops and restaurants, the weekly hours may be calculated as an average in three to ten weeks depending on the employment contract.


The standard working week is Monday through Friday. Shops are also open on Saturdays. Small shops may close on a weekday (generally Monday) to compensate their workers for having worked Saturday. By law, Prefets are allowed to authorise a small number of specific shops to open on Sundays; such as bars, cafes, restaurants and bakeries (which are traditionally opened every day but only during the morning on Sunday). Workers cannot be obliged to work on Sundays.

Most schools in France are off on Wednesday and Sunday, so it is common for students to attend school on Saturday.[citation needed]


In Hungary the working week begins on Monday and ends on Friday. A full-time job is usually 40 hours a week. For office workers work usually starts between 8-9h and ends between 16-18h depending on the contract and lunch time agreements. Public servants usually work less on Fridays (until 14h). Medium shops and supermarkets are usually open Saturdays with restricted opening hours (9-13 or 14) but larger retail stores, shopping malls and hypermarkets are open every day with only a few exceptions a year (public holidays). In shopping malls shops usually open at 10h closing 20h or 21h, 18h on Sundays. Some hypermarkets and petrol stations are open non-stop, and in cities there are usually some small non-stop grocery stores serving local neighborhoods.


Ireland has a working week from Monday to Friday with core working hours from 09:00 to 17:30. Retail stores usually open until 21:00 every Thursday. Many grocery stores, especially in urban areas, open till 21:00 or later, and some supermarkets and convenience stores may open 24/7. Shops are generally open all day Saturday and a shorter day Sunday (usually 10:00–12:00 to 17:00–19:00).


In Italy the 40 hour rule applies: Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 18:00 (with one hour break for lunch). Sunday is always holiday; Saturday is generally holiday in most companies and universities, but it is generally a regular day in elementary, middle and high schools. In the past, shops had their break 13:00 to 16:00 and they were generally open until 19:00. Working times for shops have been recently changed and now are at owner's discretion;[14] malls are generally open Tuesday to Sunday 09:00 to 20:00, and 15:00 to 20:00 on Monday, with no lunchtime closing.


Latvia has a Monday to Friday working week, with normal maximum time of 40 hours.[15] Shops are mostly open also on weekends, many large retail chains having full working hours even on Sunday. Private enterprises usually work 9:00–18:00, however some other as well governmental institutions can have a shorter working day, ending at 17:00.


The workweek is Monday through Friday; 8 hours per day, 40 hours in total per week. Large malls are open on Saturday and Sunday, many small shops close on Sunday.


The workweek is Monday through Friday; 7 to 8 hours per day, 35 to 40 hours in total per week. Shops are almost always open on Saturdays and often on Sundays, especially food shops and shopping centres.


The workweek is Monday through Friday; 8 hours per day, 40 hours in total per week. Shops are open on Saturdays and Sundays.


In Sweden, the standard workweek is Monday through Friday, both for offices and industry workers. The standard workday is eight hours, although it may vary greatly between different fields and businesses. Most office-workers have flexible working hours, and can largely decide themselves on how to divide these over the week. The workweek is regulated by Arbetstidslagen (Work time law) to a maximum of 40 hours per week.[16] The 40-hour-week is however easily bypassed by overtime. The law allows a maximum of 200 hours overtime per year.[17] There is however no overseeing government agency, and the law is often cited as toothless.

Shops are almost always open on Saturdays and often on Sundays, supermarkets and shopping centres, so that employees there have to work. Traditionally, restaurants were closed on Mondays if they were opened during the weekend, but this has in later years largely fallen out of practice. Many museums do however still remain closed on Mondays.

United Kingdom

The normal business working week is from Monday to Friday (35 to 40 hours depending on contract).

Laws for shop opening hours differ between Scotland and the rest of the UK. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland many shops and services are open on Saturdays and increasingly so on Sundays as well. In England and Wales the maximum opening times stores are allowed to open on Sundays are determined by the total floor space of a store.[18] In Scotland however there is no restriction in law on shop opening hours on a Sunday.

The EU Working Time Directive regulates that workers cannot be forced to work for more than 48 hours per week on average (although the UK allows individuals to opt out if they so choose). The minimum holiday entitlement is now 28[19] days per year but that includes Public Holidays. England & Wales have 8, Scotland has 9 and Northern Ireland has 10 permanent Public Holiday days per year[20][21]

Hong Kong

The standard working week in Hong Kong is Monday to Friday for most local and international companies. A handful still work Saturdays, but the old six day week largely was abandoned following governmental changes in 2006, under which various administrative and judicial bodies moved to a five day week. However, many civil services and banks remain open to consumers on Saturday mornings, and most shops and restaurants open early and shut late, seven days a week.


In India, the standard full-time workweek begins on Monday and ends on Saturday, roughly making it 45 to 48 hours per week. The off day is Sunday. However, Central government offices, newer institutions and IT & ITES companies follow the international 40-hour Monday-to-Friday workweek. The biblical concept of 6 days work and rest on 7th day is not applicable to India. Sunday though a popular rest day, is the first day of the week on every calender. Hence the meaning of "weekend" is literal "week end" - usually taken as friday/saturday. Term "Week end" usually does not indicate REST or OFF days, though a small population familiar with western concept understands the dual meaning in Indian or western context.

Some state government offices have 2nd and 4th Saturday as additional rest days. Many industrialised states like Maharashtra, Gujarat face power shortage where manufacturing Industries have weekly off day on different days of the week. Each industrial area is disconnected from power on a different day of the week. This is called staggered off day. So within same state, you will find each industrial area having an off day on different day of the week. Industries follow 48 hour weeks. The working hours are different for different occupations. Police constables, Drivers, Private Security service workers have longer duty hours but the actual work is less than 8 hours a day in most cases except police.

Markets are open for a long time. The convenience stores in neighborhood open at 7am and are open till 10 or 11 pm - mostly owner managed. Most medical stores /pharmacies are open till 11pm. Most automobile service stations follow 9am to 6pm schedule. Most of the other retail shops open usually at 10 or 11 am and close at 9pm. Shopping malls have shops that close up to 10.30 pm. Almost all good Restaurants are open from 11am to 11pm. Many retail shops are now open on all days of the week.

In the ancient Vedic calendar, which pre-dates the Christian, Muslim and Jewish calendars, Sunday has always been the first day of the week with Saturday as the day of rest. Today only Nepal still follows this calendar workweek where the resting day is only Saturday.

Islamic countries

Thursday–Friday weekend

Friday is the Muslim holy day when Jumu'ah prayers take place, and a number of countries have a Thursday–Friday weekend. Those countries are presently:

As of 2009, formal proposals are also being discussed in Yemen to change to a (single-day) Friday weekend. The coalition government formed on December 2011 issued a decree changing the weekend in Yemen. As of February 2012 the weekend in Yemen was to be Friday–Saturday, but this was postponed due to the instability across the country. The weekend remains Thursday-Friday.

Friday–Saturday weekend

Reform in a number of Arab countries of the Persian Gulf in the 2000s led to a number of countries replacing the Thursday–Friday weekend with the Friday–Saturday weekend. This trend is to allow for respect of Fridays as the day for Jumu'ah prayers in Muslim countries while also having more working days to overlap with international financial markets.

Friday weekend

Some Muslim-majority countries have Friday as the only weekend day and have a six day work week.

Saturday–Sunday weekend

Other countries with Muslim-majority populations or significant Muslim populations nonetheless follow the Saturday–Sunday weekend. While Friday is a working day, a long midday break is given to allow time off for worship. Those countries are:

Non-contiguous workweek

Brunei Darussalam has a non-contiguous work week, consisting of Monday through Thursday plus Saturday. The days of rest are Friday and Sunday.


For most Israelis, the workweek begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday or Friday at noon[28] to accommodate Jewish Sabbath, which begins Friday night, The standard workweek is 43 hours per week, while a workday is 8 to 10 hours per day, depending on contract.[29]


The standard business office workweek in Japan begins on Monday and ends on Friday, 40 hours per week. This system became common between the years of 1980 and 2000. Before then, most workers in Japan worked full-time from Monday to Friday, and half time on Saturday (called "Han don", means half-holiday. "don" from the Dutch word "Zondag"), 45–48 hours per week. On Friday many people say "HanaKin," which means "flowery Friday."


Mexico has a 40 working-hours workweek running from Monday to Friday. However, it is a custom in most industries and trades to work half day on Saturday, which is the day workers get paid. Shops and retailers open on Saturday and Sunday in most of the biggest cities.


Mongolia has a Monday to Friday working week, with normal maximum time of 40 hours. Shops are mostly open also on weekends, many large retail chains having full working hours even on Sunday. Private enterprises work 9:00–18:00, as well governmental institutions can have full working hours.


Nepal follows the ancient Vedic calendar, which has the resting day on Saturday and the first day of the working week on Sunday.[30] Schools in Nepal are off on Saturdays, so it is common for students to go to school Sunday through Friday.

New Zealand

In New Zealand the working week is typically Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm, but it is not uncommon for many industries (especially construction) to work half day Saturdays normally 8/9am to about 1pm. Supermarkets, malls, independent retailers, and increasingly, banks, remain open seven days a week.


Pakistan follows the standard international 40 hour working week, from Monday to Friday, with Saturday and Sunday being weekends.[31] However, in many schools and enterprises, Friday is usually considered a half-day.


In Russia the common workweek begins on Monday and ends on Friday with 8 hours per day.

Federal law defines a workweek duration of 5 or 6 days and not more than 40 hours. In all cases Sunday is a holiday. With a 5-day workweek the employer chooses which day of the week will be the second day off. Usually this is a Saturday, but in some organizations (mostly government) such day is a Monday. Through this they can serve people with a normal working schedule at Saturday.

There are non-working public holidays in Russia and all of them have a fixed day in the year. By law if such holiday coincides with ordinary day off, the second takes the place of the next working day (an official public holiday can't replace a regular day off). Each year the government can modify working weeks near public holidays for optimizing labor schedule. For example, when the usual five-day week, Tuesday or Thursday will be a public holiday, Monday or Friday will be an uncomfortable one-day gap between holidays. In the case with Tuesday, the Saturday day off is swapped with the Monday working day, and get a reasonable week from Wednesday to Saturday. In the case with Thursday, Friday is swapped with Saturday of the next week or Saturday and next week Monday or use any other solution.

There are exceptions for some specific occupations like transport workers, shop assistants, security guards, etc. They usually use their own independent schemes without working weeks. For example, the service industry often uses the X-through-Y scheme (Russian: X через Y) when every worker uses X days for work and the next Y days for rest.

Soviet Union

In the Soviet Union the standard work week was 41 hours: 8 hours 12 min. Mon-Fri. Before the mid-1960-s there was a 41 hour 6-day standard work week: 7 hours Mon-Fri and 6 hours on Sat.


In Thailand, the workweek is Monday through Saturday for a maximum of 44 to 48 hours per week (Saturday is usually a half or full day).

However, government offices and some private companies have modernized, adopted progress through enacting the European standard of Monday through Friday.

Currently, 50% of the luxury beach resorts in Phuket have a five day workweek. 23% have taken steps to reform their 6 day workweek through half measures (such as reducing from a 6 day workweek to a 5.5 day workweek).

United States

The standard workweek in the United States begins on Monday and ends on Friday, 40 hours per week, with Saturday and Sunday being weekend days. Most stores are open for business on Saturday, and may be open a full or half-day on Sunday as well (except where prohibited by law, which is called the Blue law).

See also


  1. ^ Rybczynski, Witold (1991). Waiting for the Weekend. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-012663-5. 
  2. ^ Gapminder Foundation (2011) "Gapminder World" graph of working hours per week plotted against purchasing power- and inflation-adjusted GDP per capita over time
  3. ^ a b Hunnicutt, B.K. (1984) "The End of Shorter Hours" Labor History 25:373-404
  4. ^ a b c Lombardo, C.N. (February 4, 2010) "Shorter Workweek in a Tough Economy" Wisconsin Employment Law Letter (
  5. ^ Rones et al. (1997) "Trends in Hours of Work since the Mid-1970s" Monthly Labor Review 120(3):3-12
  6. ^ a b Horowitz, C.F. (August 30, 2004) "The Wrong Way to Shorten the Work Week" Mises Daily (The Ludwig von Mises Institute)
  7. ^ Coote, A. et al. (2012) 21 Hours: Why a Shorter Working Week Can Help Us All to Flourish in the 21st Century (London: New Economics Foundation)
  8. ^ Stuart, H. (January 7, 2012) "Cut the working week to a maximum of 20 hours, urge top economists" The Guardian
  9. ^ Schachter, H. (February 10, 2012) "Save the world with a 3-day work week" Globe and Mail
  10. ^ Baker, D. (January 27, 2009) "Pass the stimulus - then help shorten the work week" New York Daily News
  11. ^ Abate, T. (July 11, 2010) "Get to Work: Want more jobs? Shorten the workweek" San Francisco Chronicle page D-3
  12. ^ SGP official site, SGP: Meer rust op zondag (Dutch)
  13. ^ "Working hours". (Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment). Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Latvian State Labour Inspectorate
  16. ^ "Arbetstidslagen". Arbetsmiljöverket. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  17. ^ "Arbetstidslagen - Övertid". Arbetsmiljöverket. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Directgov: Working time limits (the 48-hour week), business trading hours law.
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ "Algeria switches weekend, again". BBC News. 2009-08-14. 
  24. ^ a b [2]
  25. ^
  26. ^ May 17, 2006: Friday-Saturday weekend in UAE from September
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Facts About Israel". Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  29. ^ "Working and rest hours act highlights (Hebrew)". Israel Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor.{34B7D85A-3AB8-4194-A2CE-FBDF0246D740}&NRORIGINALURL=%2fNR%2fexeres%2f34B7D85A-3AB8-4194-A2CE-FBDF0246D740.htm&NRCACHEHINT=Guest#%D7%90. Retrieved July 2009. 
  30. ^ Vedic Books, The Vedic Week.
  31. ^ "Pakistani Weekend Public Holidays Update". Reuters. 24 April 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2011.