By | Oliver Reed
Most businesses don’t stay open seven days a week. Instead, they choose to only be open for a set number of pre-set business days. In general, a working week consists of five days – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – although some companies may consider each day a working day or require only one day off per year.
Most businesses are closed on certain public holidays, and if a business does not require employees to work on a particular public holiday, in most cases the company does not consider it a business day. For all intents and purposes, when a company refers to a “business day,” it is referring to the typical work week comprised of Monday through Friday.
Whether a day counts as a business day may also depend on location.
In the United States and Europe, Saturdays and Sundays usually do not fall under this definition. In Israel and some Muslim countries, however, Sunday is a working day but Friday is not.
A working day has become a standard unit of time in the business world: if a person is determining how long it will take to deliver a package or complete a project, they will list the time requirements in working days to make it clear that weekends should not be included in any figure.
The unit is especially useful for the shipping and banking industries, which need to predict the availability of items and money for their customers. Human resources departments also use days as a unit of measurement to determine the length of employment and eligibility for employee benefits.
The length of a single working day is not set.
Instead, as each business sets its own hours of operation, it set the length of its day. Some companies keep their schedules with 24 hours a day, but many consider local time as 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to make up for the standard day.
The concept of the working day has been challenged by many employees in recent years, as many employers have allowed employees to switch to more flexible hours. Especially for people whose work is based online, there is very little difference between a working day and a weekend.
What is a working week?
A work week is not just the amount of time an employee spends on work, but the amount of hours an employer is legally permitted to require an employee in a calendar week. Most countries consider the working week to be five days, usually between Monday and Friday. Typically, companies require an average of 40 hours per week.
While most businesses break the 40-hour week into eight-hour increments over a five-day period, four-day workweeks consisting of ten hours per day have gained popularity. Some countries have also adopted working weeks which deviate from the 40-hour norm. Work weeks may also depend on an employee’s religious beliefs and holidays.
In the United States,
the eight-hour, five-day workweek has been predominant since the 1920s when American automaker Henry Ford implemented the program for its factory workers. Ford believed that not only would his employees be more productive on schedule, but given more free time during the weekends, they would have more time to enjoy his cars, thus galvanizing the business.
In the decades that followed, the 40-hour workweek was widely adopted in North America, Europe, and Asia. Many countries have enacted labor and employment laws that protect workers from having to work more than an average of 40 hours a week unless they knowingly adhere to a more demanding schedule.
The 40-hour program has become popular
because it caters to both employer and employee, allowing companies to thrive from a generous amount of work hours during the week and workers to benefit from two full days of leisure per week. People have started to focus more on achieving a healthy work-life balance.
The term weekend warrior was adopted to describe workers who used their weekends, not for idle leisure but to passionately pursue jobs such as camping, home improvement, and sports.
Most countries legally allow employees to take short working weeks for holidays. Furthermore, many employers are expected to respect the religious traditions of their employees.
In countries or regions with high populations of employees who observe Sabbath or weekly prayer rituals, companies often allow workers to leave early on certain days. In this scenario, a work week could be Monday through Friday until noon, as opposed to a full work day on Friday.
Several countries and companies have experimented with changing the 40-hour workweek. In 2000, the French government went so far as to legally change the work week to 35 hours, only to change it a few years later due to criticism.
The Indian government, on the other hand, has traditionally followed a 48-hour working week. Of course, factoring in overtime and vacation can make a nation’s actual workweek very different from its legal mandate.
Companies have also experimented with different working hours. There are ten-hour days and four-day weeks, but companies have also toyed with the idea of packing an average of 40 hours into even fewer days, allowing the employee a long weekend. Other companies require more than the average 40 hours from their employees but compensate for the extra work in overtime pay.