Spain could become one of the first countries in the world to test the four-day work week after the government agreed to launch a modest pilot project for companies interested in the idea.
Earlier this year, the small left-wing Spanish party Más País Announced that the government had accepted his proposal to test the idea. Discussions have been held since then and the next meeting is expected to take place in the next few weeks.
“With the four-day (32-hour) workweek, we are launching into the true debate of our time,” said Iñigo Errejón from Más País. On twitter. “It is an idea whose time has come.”
From New Zealand to Germany, the idea has been gaining traction globally. Hailed by its advocates as a means to increase productivity, improve workers’ mental health and fight climate change, the proposal has taken on new importance as the pandemic exacerbates problems around well-being, burnout and health. balance between work and personal life.
Left-wing parties in Spain, where a 44-day strike in Barcelona in 1919 resulted in the country becoming one of the first in Western Europe to adopt the eight-hour workday – they have seized on the idea. “Spain is one of the countries where workers put more hours than the European average. But we are not among the most productive countries, ”said Errejón. “I maintain that working longer hours does not mean working better.”
While the exact details of the pilot will be discussed with the government, his party has proposed a three-year, € 50 million project that would allow companies to test reduced hours with minimal risk. The costs of a business foray into the four-day work week, for example, could be covered 100% the first year, 50% the second year, and 33% the third year.
“With these figures, we calculate that we could have around 200 companies participating, with a total of between 3,000 and 6,000 workers,” said Héctor Tejero from Más País. “The only red lines are that we want to see a real reduction in working hours and no loss of wages or jobs.”
Tejero estimated that the pilot could be launched as early as the fall, marking the beginning of the first national initiative to reduce working hours since France began moving to limit the work week to 35 hours in 1998. “Spain will be the first country to carry out a test of this magnitude, ”said Tejero. “A pilot project like this has not been carried out anywhere in the world.”
The party has suggested that the pilot be guided by a panel of experts, including representatives from the government, workers’ unions and business lobby groups, who will also help analyze the results.
More Country expects to see an echo of the experience of Software Delsol, the firm from the south of Spain that last year became the first in the country implement a four-day work week. “They saw a reduction in absenteeism, productivity went up and workers say they are happier,” Tejero said.
A source from Spain’s Industry Ministry said talks on the pilot project were in their early stages. At this point, everything is up for debate, from the cost of the pilot to the number of companies involved and the schedule, he added.
The idea has faced opposition in some quarters, and one of the leaders of the country’s main business associations called it “crazy” in the wake of the country’s crisis. worst recession since civil war. “Getting out of this crisis requires more work, not less”, Ricardo Mur from CEOE he said on a forum in December.
As Spain progresses with the budding rider, his progress is closely followed in the UK and around the world. “I understand this would be the first national driver of the four-day week,” said Joe Ryle of the 4 days a week campaign. “We call on governments around the world to follow the Spanish example in paving the way for the four-day work week.”
He described a reduction in working hours as long overdue. “Clearly, the way we work is making people stressed, exhausted, overworked and causing massive mental health and workplace problems,” he said. “The four-day week would be good for the economy, good for workers and good for the environment. What don’t I like about that?
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism