Iran’s parliament approved changes to the working week for all government employees on Wednesday that would establish a 40-hour working week with a Friday-Saturday weekend.

The legislation, which still requires a green light from constitutional watchdog the Guardian Council, would replace the existing 44-hour working week with a half-day Thursday and Friday — the Muslim day of prayer and rest — the only full day off.

The change had been hotly debated, and 136 lawmakers voted in favor with 66 against and three abstentions, the official IRNA news agency said.

Economists had warned that maintaining a Thursday-Friday weekend risked deepening Iran’s isolation by limiting most international transactions to three days per week.

But some clerics accused supporters of a Friday-Saturday weekend of taking their lead from the Judaeo-Christian traditions of the Western world.

However, lawmaker Mohsen Pirhadi told parliament Wednesday that leading Shiite cleric Ayatollah Javadi Amoli had raised no objection to Saturday as a weekend day.

With AFP