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Spain to Become Europe's First Country to Experiment Four-day Work Week

Representative photo. Credit: Shutterstock

Representative photo. Credit: Shutterstock

Spain is set to become the first country in Europe to try the 32-hour, four-day working week.

Spain has decided to experiment with a four-day working week after the government accepted a proposal to test out the idea. It is set to become the first country in Europe to try the 32-hour, four-day working week. The government agreed to launch a pilot project for the interested companies in February. The small, left-wing party Más País pitched the idea to the government. Héctor Tejero of Más País said that they are aiming to have about 200 companies engaged, with a total of anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 workers under a three-year, €50m project.

“The only red lines are that we want to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs,” said Tejero.

According to The Guardian, Spain could begin testing the proposal as early as this fall. For years, patrons for a four-day workweek have asserted that a compact schedule could pilot more productivity and a better work-life balance. This perspective gained credence in a few of the countries amid the coronavirus pandemic that has seen drastic changes to the way people work. Now, Spain is about to explore first hand whether the concept works. The 32-hour workweek would allow employees to spend less time at the office with no change in pay.

The Guardian cited a source in Spain’s industry ministry that said discussions over the project were in their inceptive stages, with everything still up for debate. Although the push for a 4-day-week has already been gaining momentum in Spain, schools, universities and other public administrations and institutions are yet to adopt the proposal fully and fledged.

This is not the first time that the concept is receiving support. Furlough programs imply many workers are already being paid to work lesser hours a week — or not at all. In May of 2020, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern proposed employers consider the switch to a four-day week. According to the Guardian, Microsoft, Shake Shack are some of the large corporations that have tried the four-day workweeks in the past.

Proponents of a four-day workweek believe that if more people are allowed to work fewer hours, it could help in the long run to address the high unemployment rates which have afflicted so many nations throughout the pandemic. Most business leaders have expressed less enthusiasm about reducing work hours without cutting pay. This is where Spain is proposing to cover some of the costs coming in.