This country will change to a four-day work week due to the crisis

(CNN) — Shorter workweeks meant to increase worker productivity and happiness are becoming fashionable in parts of the world like Iceland and the UK.

But in crisis-hit Sri Lanka, the concept is more about coping with crippling food and fuel shortages.

The South Asian country, struggling with shortages amid its worst economic crisis in decades, announced Tuesday that public sector workers will have Fridays off for the next three months, with no pay cuts, to give them time to grow your own crops.

“It seems appropriate to grant government officials a one-business-day permit … to conduct agricultural activities in their backyards or elsewhere as a solution to expected food shortages,” the Government Information Department said Tuesday. .

He said the shorter week will also benefit workers affected by power outages and transportation disruptions caused by food and gas shortages.

There are believed to be up to 1 million public sector workers in the country. However, the four-day week will not apply to “essential services” staff working in hospitals and ports or in the power and water sectors.

The government, which is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a rescue package this month, is also interested in encouraging people to take jobs abroad so they can send money back.

He said public sector workers will be granted unpaid leave for up to five years “without prejudice” if they decide to take a job abroad.

A four-day work week: productive and successful 0:31

Chaos and uncertainty in Sri Lanka

The island nation, with a population of 22 million, is in the midst of its worst financial and political crisis in decades. Public anger erupted in April, when protests turned violent and threw the government into disarray. Several government officials, including the prime minister, have resigned.

For many Sri Lankans, daily life has become an endless cycle of chaos and uncertainty since the crisis began.

Meandering lines for basic supplies like food and gasoline form daily across the country, and many stores have been forced to close because they can’t run refrigerators, air conditioners or fans.

Soldiers are often stationed at gas stations to calm frustrated customers who line up for hours in scorching heat to fill up their tanks. Some customers have reportedly even died while waiting.

Government critics have questioned the difference the four-day week will make, saying that although state-sector employees often live far from Colombo, most use public transport to get to work.

They also say that most are relatively poor and do not own their land, so they are unlikely to grow their own food.

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