Weekend Reform Proposal Rejected
The highly anticipated proposal to overhaul Iran's weekend structure has been rejected by lawmakers before even making it to the Majlis floor.
During a meeting of Majlis Social Commission on Sunday, Salman Khodadadi, the commission chairman, said the proposal was rejected because it did not clearly call for a two-day weekend, the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.
For a bill to be voted on by all legislators, it first needs to be approved by the relevant commission.
"The plan only sought to turn Saturday into a half-day, instead of Thursday," the lawmaker said. "In other words, they didn't propose the adoption of a complete two-day weekend."
In Iran, schools and government offices are closed on Thursday, while some private enterprises choose to operate part-time. Friday is the weekend.
Iran and Djibouti are the only two countries in the Muslim world that have a six-day workweek. Up until recently, Afghanistan had a single-day weekend but in 2015 adopted a Friday-Saturday weekend similar to Arab Muslim nations.
Tourism experts and economists agree that Iran needs to overhaul its weekend structure and adopt a Friday-Saturday weekend. This change allows people to attend Friday prayers and affords more work days to conform to the working calendars of international financial markets.
Proponents of the reform argue that by extending the weekend to two days, people will be able to plan their trips in advance and travel more often, which not only helps boost domestic tourism but also helps alleviate congestions on intercity roads, which occur every time there is a long weekend.
From an economic standpoint, it makes sense to align the country's workweek with the rest of the world. Iran’s current weekend structure means the country’s business is out of touch with the world for almost four consecutive days (Thursday afternoon to Sunday evening).
"Some 97% of our exports are to countries that have a Saturday-Sunday weekend," Mohsen Mehralizadeh, the head of Tourism Commission at the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, told the chamber's official news website.
"From a tourism perspective, it helps with planning and spread of travel … We'll release a comprehensive report on this soon," he added.
Furthermore, a long workweek takes a toll on the workforce's productivity and creativity. Six days of non-stop work with only one day off is mentally taxing and physically unsustainable in the long run.
Similar proposals had been rejected 11 times before. With the rejection of the bill, another proposal cannot be made for the next six months.