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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in Soviet labor law. (1) The legally established measure of the length of labor in a calendar week. The normal length of a workweek cannot exceed 41 hours. As the necessary economic and other conditions are established, there will be a transition to a shorter workweek. Shortened workweeks, for example, of 36 or 24 hours, have been instituted for certain categories of workers, including minors and persons employed in dangerous working conditions.

(2) A work schedule that determines the number of working and nonworking days in a calendar week. In the USSR the five-day workweek, with two nonworking days (ordinarily Saturday and Sunday), is most common. With the five-day workweek the length of each workday is determined by internal labor regulations or work shift schedules approved by the administration and confirmed by the local factory committee of the trade union (in compliance with the established length of the workweek). The legally envisioned standard workweek should be ensured for each calendar week or, on the average, for a scheduled accounting period. If the total hours of five work shifts according to the schedule are less than the norm for a week, the short hours are worked off, as they accumulate, on one of the two nonworking days, which, in the schedule, is registered as a workday.

At enterprises and establishments where a five-day workweek is not expedient owing to the nature of production and working conditions, a six-day workweek with one nonworking day is established. Under the six-day workweek the length of each workday cannot exceed seven hours with a weekly norm of 41 hours. Where the weekly norm is 36 hours no workday may exceed six hours, and where the weekly norm is 24 hours the maximum workday is four hours.

The six-day workweek has also been instituted for general educational schools, higher and secondary specialized schools, and vocational schools.


In the capitalist countries the struggle of the working class to improve its economic position and the worsening of social contradictions in bourgeois society have forced the ruling classes to legally recognize the eight-hour workday and the 48-hour workweek (for example, in the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, and Italy). In Great Britain, the workweek of women and minors may not exceed 48 hours, but the length of the workweek for adult men is not controlled by law. In some capitalist countries the working class has won institution of the 40-hour workweek (for example, in France in 1936 and in the United States in 1938).

The length of the workweek in the capitalist countries is regulated not only by law but also by collective agreements. Sometimes the length of the workweek designated in such agreements is less than that established by law (for example, 40 to 42 hours in the Federal Republic of Germany). However, collective agreements apply for the most part only to workers at large industrial enterprises. Legislation in the capitalist countries does not restrict the rights of employers to ask employees to work overtime. In 1972, for example, the average amount of overtime work was 3.5 hours a day in the United States and 3.1 hours a day in Great Britain. Second and even third jobs significantly increase the length of the workweek. There are roughly 4 million manual and office workers who work at more than one job in the United States, and 650,000 in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Thus, because regulations do not establish a length for the workweek but only limit the maximum number of work hours paid for at standard rates, there is a difference between the normative length of the workweek and the actual length. The actual average length of the workweek is a composite figure made up of the extremely short week of some categories of workers and the extremely long week of others.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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