The four-day working week, with nuances, has convinced Telefónica’s management, which has decided to extend the option of requesting the measure, on a voluntary basis, to its entire workforce in Spain, some 18,000 workers. The Spanish telco had been testing this reduction in weekly hours since last October with a small group of workers, and the results of the pilot have been so satisfactory that it has decided to extend it to the rest of the employees, according to El País.
The Telefonica model. The four-day working week that Telefónica agreed with the unions has, yes, fine print, since it entails a reduction in the salary of the workers who take advantage of it, something that goes against the precepts of the defenders of this model of reorganization of work, who estimate that the reduction in hours must be undertaken without reducing salary, as we already explained in Engadget.
Telefónica, on the other hand, has opted for a model in which the company assumes a small part of the salary for the hours that are not worked, and the employee the rest. Thus, the telco eliminates 80% of the remuneration of the day less in the payroll of the worker, so that he continues to receive 20% of the salary of the day he does not work. An intermediate step that the unions have asked to gradually expand in favor of professionals, so that it is closer to the original four-day workweek proposal.
Deadline for application. Telefónica workers who want to take advantage of this four-day work week with a salary reduction have a period of time from June 9 to July 15 to notify the company.
The measure, for all applications that are accepted, will begin to apply from next September 1, and will be granted, in principle, until the end of the year. However, the intention of the Spanish company is to extend the formula for annual periods until 2023. Therefore, workers will be able to choose each year to take advantage of the four-day work week or return to a longer day with higher pay.
Those who have already participated in the pilot program since October, for their part, will be able to continue with the four-day working week during July and August, but Telefónica does not clarify whether, if they so wish, they will be able to take advantage of this plan again or will have to return to the previous day until 2023.
The model. The four-day work week is a model of work reorganization that proposes reducing the working day from 40 to 32 hours per week without this implying a reduction in salary. The defenders of this proposal argue that working less makes professionals more rested and happy, which causes their productivity to increase and, in the long run, they are able to perform the same in less time.
However, the model raises many questions among some entrepreneurs, who do not believe that the same can be produced in less time. For this reason, alternative proposals have emerged, such as those of Telefónica and Desigual, which proposed working one day less by reducing part of the employees’ salaries, or that of the Government of Belgium, which proposed maintaining the 40-hour workday per week at the rate of 10 hours a day from Monday to Thursday.
And those are not the only doubts. Despite the advantages that advocates of the four-day work week for the well-being of workers proclaim, recent studies indicate that it can mean more stress and pressure for professionals by having to do the same job in less time. Likewise, the model also raises questions about inequality between workers in different sectors, since experts assure that this reduction to 32 hours of work per week cannot be extended to all types of jobs.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism