Spain starts pilot project for a shorter working week

by Lorraine Williamson
shorter working week

MADRID – Spain wants to conduct a pilot project to investigate the effects of a shorter working week for the same wage on productivity. The government has made a total of €10 million available for the project, which was published in the State bulletin on Friday.

If the results of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s two-year trial are positive, the measure could be expanded to other parts of the economy, state television channel RTVE reported on Saturday. Small and medium-sized companies with up to 249 employees in the manufacturing industry can participate. 

The state pays them a maximum of €150,000. To qualify, they must reduce weekly working hours by at least 10% for 25-30% of the workforce. However, this depends on the size of the company. 

At the same time, the companies involved must demonstrate organisational improvements in processes in the first year of the trial to increase productivity. This could also compensate for higher wage costs per hour. Companies are free to reduce daily hours or introduce a four-day working week. 

Also read: 35-hour working week

Shorter working week for at least two years 

So far, there are 60-70 SMEs in Spain who must keep this shorter working week for at least two years. This program was a measure agreed upon with the Más País party in the general state budget for this year. 

Short-time working must not be accompanied by a lower salary 

A relevant detail of the government program is that the reduction of working hours is not accompanied by a lower salary for the employee. Although there are already companies applying these shortened weeks, many are reducing their employees’ salaries, such as Desigual and recently Telefónica. 

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