Will Spain have a 35-hour working week by 2022?

by Lorraine Williamson
35-hour working week

MADRID – Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Jolanda Díaz wants to negotiate up to a 35-hour working week in Spain by 2022. The Spanish minister wants to follow the work model of Denmark. However, that requires a considerable adjustment of the current legislation in Spain. 

As Minister of Employment, Díaz showed her ambition and comes up with some goals for next year. One of these is a major reform of the working week in Spain. The Spanish minister is fully convinced of working weeks as in the Scandinavian countries. And therefore wants to introduce a maximum of a 35-hour working week. 

Fewer hours per week 

Also within the previously presented Plan 2050, Spain already had the goal of reducing the number of working hours per week. The legal maximum is currently 40 hours. And the goal is to reduce this to 37 hours from 2030 to 36 hours in 2040 and ultimately a 35-hour working week from 2050. Several pilots are currently underway by companies that have implemented a four-day working week

Spanish minister convinced of Danish model 

The Spanish news sites El Español and ABC.es wrote that Yolanda Díaz wants to negotiate the current legislation to introduce more flexible working hours by 2022. Her prime example is Denmark, where experts claim that this country offers employees the perfect work-life balance. 

In Denmark, there is a legal maximum working week of 37 hours. However, the Danes work an average of 32.4 hours per week. Interestingly enough, the Danish government sets very few requirements for the way in which the working week is organised. Employers also give their staff a lot of freedom about how to organise the working week. 

Cogesa Expats

Denmark pursues strong employment policy 

In addition to the maximum number of hours per week, Denmark also has a strong employment policy that gives employees many opportunities to retrain for a position they want. According to the Spanish minister, Denmark has proven to have a high capacity for integration, providing employment and training pathways to groups at risk of exclusion, such as refugees. 

Unemployment figures Denmark and Spain 

The effect of this policy is apparent from the unemployment figures of the Northern European country. Unemployment is currently 4.3% for the entire population and 8.2% for young people under the age of 25. These figures are in stark contrast to the figures in Spain where the unemployment rate does not fall below 14% and the percentage of unemployed young people fluctuates around 35%. 

Spain still a long way to go 

Adecco Group director Javier Blasco reports that Spain still has a long way to go in this area if it wants to emulate a model like the Danes. Recently imposed measures within companies, such as time registration or agreements about how many days can be worked from home, are all limitations for achieving more labor flexibility. 

Whether and when the Spanish minister can take steps with the plans she has is still the question. For the time being, following a work model as in Denmark would require a considerable adjustment of the current legislation in Spain. 

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