Spaniards could enjoy a four-day working week as early as this autumn as the government agrees to a new pilot programme.
Spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, the proposed plan of a shorter working week will aim to boost employment and increase productivity during working hours.
The pilot, which was put forward by Más País, a small left-wing political party, has now been accepted by Spain’s government.
The party’s president, Iñigo Errejón, announced the news on Twitter earlier this year, writing: ‘We did it! We have agreed with the Government to promote a pilot project to reduce working hours. European funds should also serve to reorient the economy towards improving health, caring for the environment and increasing productivity.’
One 2019 study, carried out by Trades Union Congress, found that those in countries with shorter working weeks are more productive. For example, employees in Denmark, which has the shortest working week in Europe, are 23.5% more productive than they are in the UK.
This argument has been put forward by Más País, which contends that working more hours does not mean working better, The Guardian reports.
‘Spain is one of the countries where workers put in more hours than the European average. But we’re not among the most productive countries,’ Errejón said.
Maria Alvarez, the founder of the 4 Day Week Campaign in Spain, told the Mirror the pilot is a ‘sensible idea that should be in every government’s toolbox coming out of [the coronavirus] crisis’.
‘What this pilot reveals is that the four-day week has never been a moonshot. Quite the opposite,’ she added.
At the end of 2020, Spain had an unemployment rate of 16.13%, one of the highest within the European Union, as per Statista.
A source within Spain’s industry ministry told The Guardian that while the pilot programme has been accepted by the government, talks are in the initial stages and much is still up for debate.
This includes how much the pilot could cost, how many companies will be involved and when it will be rolled out.
In its proposal, Más País has set-out a three-year pilot that will cost the government an estimated €50 million. Under the plans, the government will cover 100% of costs or losses companies incur by implementing the four-day working week in the first year. This will reduce to 50% in year two and 33% in the third year.
‘With these figures, we calculate that we could have around 200 companies participate, with a total of anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 workers. The only red lines are that we want to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs,’ Héctor Tejero, a member of the party said.
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