Four-day workweek is gaining popularity in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
working week

MADRID – A four-day working week is gaining popularity in Spain. A year ago, the Spanish government invested in a pilot for a shorter working week. Although Spanish companies are creative with their implementation, employers and takers in Spain are very positive. 

Spaniards are currently enjoying a working week that is a lot shorter than usual. Many Spaniards work four or even three days during Semana Santa. Yet this is already quite normal for some Spanish employees. 

Pilot four-day working week Spanish government positively received 

During the pandemic, the vision of full-time work changed. More than a year ago, the Spanish government and Más País decided to invest €50 million in a pilot to try out a four-day working week. This is partly due to a better work-life balance. More and more companies in Spain are now taking this step and a four-day working week is not just an option, but sometimes simply mandatory. 

New model only works with fewer hours and retain salary 

For example, Software Delsol introduced the model of the four-day working week in Jaén in January 2020. Employees received a contract of 36 hours spread over four days with full pay. The introduction of this change not only led to an increase in the workforce by 6% but also to a 30% reduction in sick leave. “Employees are more engaged, they have more free time, they are more positive and all of this leads to a good working atmosphere,” said the company’s head of human resources. 

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Not all companies in Spain offer equal pay for fewer hours 

This company offers its employees the guarantee of salary retention. However, that is not the case everywhere. Both fashion chain Desigual and Telefónica España are currently also testing a four-day working week. However, the salary at these companies also goes down a bit. The evaluation of this concept has not yet been completed. But Software Delsol believes that this concept – lowering salaries with a shorter working week – cannot be successful. 

Cabify enters ‘charging day’ once a month 

Another company has added one mandatory day off per month. Since the beginning of 2021, all Cabify employees have been given a ‘paid charging day’ on the third Friday of the month. This was introduced during the pandemic as a reward for commitment and flexibility during that time. However, months later, the director decided to maintain this initiative as productivity increased and people experienced more work-life balance. 

First steps to four-day working week in Spain 

In September 2021, Minister Díaz of Employment already spoke about the introduction of a 35-hour working week. However, there are quite a few snags to this vision, including an amendment to current legislation. Although, thanks to the pilot, many companies in Spain have now become acquainted with the four-day working week. What is special is that many of the companies that signed up for this are convinced of the positive effects that a shorter working week entails. Therefore, they have decided to implement this concept permanently. 

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