Spain Becomes One Of The First Countries In The World To Trial A Four-Day Working Week

Spain Becomes One Of The First Countries In The World To Trial A Four-Day Working Week. image: Wikimedia

Spain Becomes One Of The First Countries In The World To Trial A Four-Day Working Week.

Spain could become one of the first countries in the world to trial the four-day working week after the government agreed to run a trial project for companies who are interested in the idea.

Earlier this year, the small leftwing Spanish party Más País announced that the government had accepted its proposal to test out the idea. Talks have since been held, with the next meeting expected to take place in the coming weeks.

“With the four-day work week (32 hours), we’re launching into the real debate of our times,” said Iñigo Errejón of Más País on Twitter. “It’s an idea whose time has come.”

From New Zealand to Germany, the idea has been steadily gaining ground globally. Hailed by its proponents as a means to increase productivity, improve the mental health of workers and fight climate change, the proposal has taken on new significance as the pandemic sharpens issues around well-being, burnout and work-life balance.

Leftwing parties in Spain – where a 44-day strike in Barcelona in 1919 resulted in the country becoming one of the first in western Europe to adopt the eight-hour workday – have seized on the idea. “Spain is one of the countries where workers put in more hours than the European average. But we’re not among the most productive countries,” said Errejón. “I maintain that working more hours does not mean working better.”

While the exact details of the pilot are yet to be thrashed out with the government, his party has proposed a three-year, €50 million project that would allow companies to trial reduced hours with minimal risk. The costs of a company’s foray into the four-day work week, for example, could be covered at 100 per cent the first year, 50 per cent the second year and 33 per cent the third year.

The proposal would see companies trial the scheme at minimal risk, with the government committed to cover costs at 100 per cent for the first year. This would then fall to 50 per cent for the second year and then would drop to 33 per cent for the third year.

Another member of Más País, Héctor Tejero, added: “With these figures, we calculate that we could have around 200 companies participate.”

Across the world, from New Zealand to Germany, the idea has been steadily gaining popularity, with proponents of the idea saying it would increase productivity, improve mental health and fight climate change.

The concept has gained popularity after the coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus ideas around well-being, burnout and the work-life balance. In December, deputy Spanish prime minister Pablo Iglesias said the idea would see a reduction in working hours in a week down to 32.

Spain has one of the highest levels of unemployment in Europe, with over four million out of work. Moving to a four-day week would drastically reduce that figure,

 


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Written by

Tony Winterburn

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