Work-life balance | Spain set to trial four-day work week

Spain set to trial four-day work week

In early 2021, left-wing Spanish party Más País confirmed that the Government had accepted its proposal for a four-day working week trial – a concept which now looks to be imminent in its implementation, according to reports from The Guardian.

Whilst several small pilots of a four-day working week have been trialled around the world, the acceptance of the proposal by the Spanish Government now looks to be the largest wide-scale trial of the concept.

A meeting to finalise the plans and implementation of the four-day week trial are expected to take place in the coming weeks. Confirming the move, Más País member Iñigo Errejón took to Twitter to proclaim that “it’s an idea whose time has come” and that “with the four-day work week (32 hours), we’re launching into the real debate of our times”.

Four-day work week ‘gaining traction’

Whilst the concept of a drastically shorter working week is far from new, reports from around the world, including endorsements from New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and German Chancellor Angela Merkel show that it’s gaining traction.

Recently, Labour former shadow cabinet member John McDonnell noted that a coalition of liberal politicians from around Europe had formed a coalition specifically to tackle the implementation of a shorter working week as a means to aide with the economic fallout of Brexit – reports from The Guardian stated.

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Letters sent to European leaders and Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated: “Throughout history, shorter working hours have been used during times of crisis and economic recession as a way of sharing work more equally across the economy between the unemployed and the over-employed.

“For the advancement of civilisation and the good society, now is the moment to seize the opportunity and move towards shorter working hours with no loss of pay.”

Unilever announced plans to trial four-day week in New Zealand last year

And on a smaller scale, a wealth of companies are taking the same approach by either introducing the four-day week, or trialling it in some territories. One of which is multinational consumer goods giant Unilever, which confirmed a widescale trial of the concept across its New Zealand operations last year.

It was previously reported that staff would be paid their current salary, with no forfeit for the reduction in hours. 

Unilever’s New Zealand Managing Director, Nick Bangs, said that the aim of the change was to optimise the time that staff spent at work, not to increase the working hours on the four-days that staff will spend working.

“If we end up in a situation where the team is working four extended days then we miss the point of this,” he said. “We don’t want our team to have really long days, but to bring material change in the way they work.”

The trial was said to act as a case study for Unilever’s global business, and Bangs noted that if it is deemed a success, it may well be rolled out across the company’s 155,000 employees across the world.

Would you consider trialling a shorter working week? Let us know in the comments…


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