Four-day week could boost jobs in Spain

Spain’s parliament building in Madrid
Photo: Shutterstock

The Spanish government is considering the introduction of a four-day week in a bid to create more jobs, improve health and increase productivity.

Deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias Turrión said a cut in working hours, without loss of pay would “undoubtedly” lead to the expansion of employment opportunities.

He added that minister for work Yolanda Díaz Pérez was exploring the idea.

Spain has a complex multi-party political system based around coalitions so often leaders of smaller parties – many of which are chiefly regional – can have significant influence over policy outcomes.

Among smaller parties in Spain is Más País (More Country), whose leader Íñigo Errejón, has also voiced support for a shorter working week.

He said: “Now that we have to rebuild our economy, Spain has the perfect opportunity to go for the four-day or 32-hour week.”

“It is a policy for the future that allows for an increase in the productivity of workers, improvements to physical and mental health.”

He added that a four-day working week could contribute to less pollution and a reduction of energy consumption with less commuting and a reduced need to light, heat and cool office buildings.

The move is being considered by the Spanish Treasury as part of negotiations ahead of budget talks.

It is thought that any roll out would be limited to a small number of companies initially.

The proposal at national level comes after the regional Valencian government introduced a similar idea in its draft budget.

A small number of companies have already independently adopted a four-day working week, reportedly leading to an increase in productivity.

Any proposal for a change to Spain’s working week would be presented by the government within the so-called social dialog framework with labor unions and industry groups.

Last week Unilever began trialling a four-day week in New Zealand, with employees allowed to select which four days they would prefer to work.

A four day week was also trialled by Microsoft last year in Japan. The company found it led to more efficient meetings, happier workers and, it claimed, a 40% productivity boost. However, the trial was only for a month.

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