Argentina’s Labor Minister backs shorter work week

Raquel Olmos said working hours should be reduced from 48 per week to 40: ‘Argentina has been left behind’

Labor minister Kelly Olmos. Credit: Kelly Olmos Twitter

Argentine Labor Minister Raquel “Kelly” Olmos backed a progressive reduction of the working week on Tuesday, saying that it should be cut from the current 48 hours a week to 40.

Currently, Argentine law allows a maximum of eight hours of work per day, six days a week, or 48 hours a week in total. Three bills pending in Congress aim to shorten the working week to 40 or 36 hours.

“It’s a proposal the ministry supports because we think Argentina has been left behind by keeping a 48-hour working week since the 1930s,” Olmos said during an interview with Radio 10.

The minister said that there should be a gradual reduction, in line with the approach of other countries that have shortened the working week.

Olmos said that the working week should be 40 hours, but added that more developed countries have a 36-hour week.

“I think that if we progressively go from 48 to 44 hours, and then to 40 hours, we will at least be moving forward in one of the only realms of labor in which Argentina is lagging significantly behind,” the minister said.

Unión por la Patria (UxP) national deputy Hugo Yasky, who is president of the Argentine Workers’ Central (CTA, by its Spanish acronym), filed a bill in Congress in August 2021 that aims to reduce the working week to 40 hours without cutting pay or staff.

Claudia Ormachea, a fellow UxP deputy and member of the bank workers’ union La Bancaria, also presented a bill calling for a reduction to 36 working hours a week, with a maximum of six hours a day.

Senator Mariano Recalde filed a bill in the upper chamber that would also reduce working hours to 36 a week, aiming to promote a four-day working week. “This will allow for a better distribution of existing jobs, create more jobs, increase productivity, improve quality of life, and reduce work-related accidents and company spending, as well as having an ecological and sanitary impact,” he said when he announced it in May.

If approved, these bills would modify national law 11,544, which establishes the current labor hours regulation. Argentina has one of the longest working weeks in the world.

Countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Japan, Sweden, Germany, and Colombia have already cut their working weeks. 

Some Argentine businesses have implemented test runs for reduced working weeks, like tech companies Midas, Global Think Technology, and Quales. They decided to maintain the reduced working week after the test run because it helped them increase productivity.

On May 2, in an event after International Workers’ Day, the General Confederation of Labor’s (CGT, by its Spanish acronym) Joint Secretary General Héctor Daer, called for reducing the 48-hour working week. 

“The 48-hour working week is anachronistic because worker productivity has grown exponentially, so we have to discuss and modify it,” he said.


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