MADRID: Around 200 SMEs in Spain are starting a pilot for a four-day working week. If the result is positive, Spain could become one of the first countries with a ‘reduced’ working week.
Several companies have already indicated they are interested in the trial. Earlier this year, the party Más País announced its intention to conduct a trial in Spain with a four-day working week. Spain is one of the countries where workers put in more than the European average. And yet, according to Iñigo Errejón of Más País, Spain is not among the most productive employees, which means that working more hours does not necessarily mean better work is delivered.
Spanish government discusses (im)possibilities of pilot
The Spanish government is looking at the criteria for companies to participate in this pilot. The requested budget of €50million for a three-year pilot has been approved by Más País. The goal is for SMEs with between six and two hundred employees to try out the four-day working week. The companies receive a fee for this.
It is not the intention to reduce employees’ salaries due to working fewer hours. Also, there should be no layoffs. With this amount, around two hundred companies in Spain can make use of reduced working hours without too much risk. A panel of experts, government members and trade unions will supervise the pilot.
Better for productivity, mental health and climate
After the pilot, Más País hopes to be able to draw the same conclusions as Software Delsol, a company from southern Spain that introduced a four-day working week last year. This company saw its absenteeism figures drop and productivity rise. Employees also indicate they are happier with their work.
Other countries in the world are also considering abolishing the working week of more than four days. Especially in times of corona, it became all too clear what the consequences are of an imbalance between work and private life. Experts from New Zealand and Germany, for example, applaud a concept that improves the productivity and mental health of workers, and can even have a positive impact on climate change by reducing travel by one day a week.