Soon, there could be a four-day work week in Spain
Spain could soon become one of the first countries in the world to try out the four-day working week system. Nations like New Zealand and Finland have also endorsed the idea, previously. The Spanish government has agreed to launch a modest pilot project for companies that are interested in the idea, The Guardian reported. Here are more details.
'An idea whose time has come'
Earlier this year, the left-wing Spanish political party Más País announced that the government had accepted its proposal to test the idea. Talks have since been conducted, with the next meeting expected to take place in the coming weeks. "With the four-day work week (32 hours), we are launching into the real debate of our times (sic)," Iñigo Errejón of Más País had tweeted.
A three-year trial project expected to be launched
While the exact details of the trial will be discussed with the government, the party has proposed a three-year, €50mn project, that is expected to allow companies to trial reduced hours with minimal risk. The costs of companies' foray into the four-day work week system could, for instance, be covered at 100% the first year, 50% the second year, and 33% the final year.
Around 200 companies may participate
Left-wing parties have appreciated the idea. "I maintain that working more hours doesn't mean working better," said Errejón. "We could have around 200 companies participate, with a total of anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 workers," Héctor Tejero of Más País said. "The only red lines are that we want to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs."
Talks are currently in initial stages, source says
A source associated with Spain's Industry Ministry said that talks over the pilot project are currently in their initial stages. From the cost of the project to the number of companies involved, every aspect is up for debate at this point, she told The Guardian.
Idea also invited criticism from some quarters
However, the idea has also invited opposition from some quarters. One of the leaders from Spain's main business associations called it "madness," keeping in mind the country's worst recession since the civil war triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. "Getting out of this crisis requires more work, not less," Ricardo Mur of CEOE had said last December.
New Zealand, Germany have also toyed with the concept
In the past few years, the concept of four-day working week has been toyed with or tried by several countries, including New Zealand and Germany. The move has been hailed by many as a means to enhance productivity, improve the mental health of employees, and protect the environment. The idea has found new significance as the pandemic raised issues around well-being and work-life balance.