By Chris King • 09 April 2023 • 2:03
Image of workers in an office.
Credit: G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock.com
Starting this coming Monday, April 10, the city of Valencia will begin experimenting with the four-day working week. It coincides with three consecutive bank holiday Mondays after moving a holiday from January to this current month.
In a pilot project promoted by the City Council, its objective is to test the impact of the application in the city of a four-day working week. It will analyse the subsequent consequences on productivity, leisure, mobility, the economy, and the health of the people involved in working 32 hours a week.
The scheme spans the four weeks of April 10, which includes Easter Monday, and April 17, which has the San Vicente Ferrer holiday. It also includes April 24, which becomes a holiday replacing January 22’s San Vicente Mártin celebration, and May 1, which is Labour Day in Spain.
Once the four weeks have ended, the City Council’s Las Naves innovation centre will evaluate the results in order to have the conclusions of this test prepared by July 20.
This proposal was based on a process of dialogue with the involvement of trade unions, companies, neighbourhood organisations, institutions and other social agents. Similar experiments have recently been conducted in other countries, including Lithuania, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal and Japan.
Joan Ribó, the mayor of Valencia, pointed out that the city is a European benchmark in innovation and that this is an innovative experience. During the launch of an information campaign on the four-day working day on March 24, he said: “We want a friendly, healthy city, that takes care of people. We want people to work to live, not live to work”.
The reduction in the number of working days is an issue subject to negotiation between trade unions and employers, but the council wants to test it and study “what happens” with quantitative and objective data.
Based on the pilot programme, three main areas will be studied: health and social well-being, climate emergency, and the economy.
Specifically, issues such as time use, work-life balance, sense of well-being, rest, the impact of the measure on greenhouse gases, air quality, silence, energy consumption, traffic, the public transport network, inland tourism, the hotel industry, commerce and shopping in shops, among other issues, will be analysed.
According to the mayor, the pandemic generated the possibility of working remotely, aided by technological advances, and brought about a change in the way of working, as opposed to working in person.
The fight against climate change has introduced another factor to try to reduce polluting emissions by reducing the number of daily commutes, which also favours this change of culture towards other ways of working.
“I am optimistic and now we have to go one step further”, as has been done with the pedestrianisation of spaces in the city centre. This has already shown that the reduction in vehicle traffic does not reduce sales in shops Joan Ribó explained.
In order to ‘stimulate’ the reduction of the working day in the Valencian Community, the Regional Ministry of Sustainable Economy, Productive Sectors, Trade and Labour, offered aid to companies for its implementation, without affecting staff salaries.
For 2022, it offered aid of more than €9,000 to companies for each worker who joined the 32-hour working day. This was always done with a prior agreement with the employee’s legal representatives and a productivity improvement plan, as reported by 20minutos.es.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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