If you’ve ever wished the weekend was longer, then you’re not alone.
Now, workers in Spain may benefit from a four-day working week if a new trial is successful.
The Spanish government has agreed to launch a pilot project for companies who are interested in the idea.
The leftwing Spanish party Más País announced that the government had accepted a proposal to test the concept.
Iñigo Errejón of Más País said on Twitter: “With the four-day work week (32 hours), we’re launching into the real debate of our times. It’s an idea whose time has come.”
The four-day week has been recommended as a way to increase productivity and improve the mental health of workers.
Although, this isn’t the first time Spain has pushed boundaries when it comes to work.
A 44-day strike in Barcelona in 1919 saw Spain becoming one of the first to adopt the eight-hour workday in Western Europe.
Errejón says: “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. I maintain that working more hours does not mean working better.”
The exact details of the pilot aren’t yet known. However, the party has been proposing a three-year, €50m project.
If successful, they claim it would allow companies to trial reduced hours with minimal risk.
The company’s costs could be covered at 100% the first year, 50% the second year and 33% the third year.
Héctor Tejero of Más País says: “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.”
Meanwhile, Tejero hopes it could start as early as autumn: “Spain will be the first country to undertake a trial of this magnitude. A pilot project like this hasn’t been undertaken anywhere in the world.”
A southern Spanish firm tried the four day week last year, the first in the country to do so. “They saw a reduction in absenteeism, productivity went up and workers say they are happier,” said Tejero.
A source with Spain’s industry ministry said everything is up for debate. Ministers are examining the cost of the pilot to the number of companies involved and the timeline.
However, not everyone agrees it will be a good idea. One of the leaders from the country’s main business associations says it would be “madness” in the wake of one of the country’s worst recessions since the civil war. “Getting out of this crisis requires more work, not less,” Ricardo Mur of CEOE said in December.
Of course, the progress of any four-day week pilot will be closely observed by campaigners around the world.
Joe Ryle of the 4 Day Week Campaign told the Guardian: “My understanding is that this would be the first-ever national level pilot of the four-day week.”
“We’re calling on governments across the world to follow the Spanish example in paving the way for the four-day work week.”
“Clearly the way that we work is making people stressed, burned out, overworked and causing massive workplace and mental health issues,” he said.
“The four-day week would be good for the economy, good for workers and good for the environment. What’s not to like about it?”
Do you think it’s a good idea?
Image via Alamy.