Spain will become the first country in the world to launch a pilot 4-day workweek at nation-state level, The Guardian reports. The government of Socialist Pedro Sánchez has accepted a proposal from the leftist Más País (meaning “More Country”) party. Preparatory talks will conclude in the following weeks.

Details under negotiation

The details of the pilot project are still about to be negotiated. But if Más País has its way, the pilot project will last three years. If a company reduces its working hours to four days a week, the state is to cover a certain amount of the costs. 100 percent of the costs in the first year, 50 percent in the second and 33 percent in the third. Héctor Tejero of Más País estimates that with this model, around 200 companies could participate and between 3,000 and 6,000 workers could benefit. Tejero defines the conditions for the subsidies as that working hours must actually be reduced without loss of pay or jobs.

The project could start as early as this fall, making Spain the first country in the world to launch a pilot project of this size. The last national initiative to reduce working hours was in France in 1998, when weekly working hours were gradually reduced from 39 to 35 hours. That change in the law is still in effect today. As Scoop previously reported, New Zealand and Finland have considered similar moves in the recent past.

Software company DelSol leads the way

With the 4-day working week Spain’s government hopes to build on the success of the southern Spanish software company DelSol. The company were the first to introduce a similar project last year. DelSol proved to be succesful: the number of days absent from work fell, productivity rose and employees were reportedly happier. Más País therefore also proposes that the Spanish project should be accompanied by a panel of experts. Meaning in specific to include government and company representatives as well as trade unions in order to analyze the results in detail.

Historically, Spain has played a pioneering role in reducing working hours. In 1919, it was one of the first countries in Western Europe to introduce the eight-hour day after a 44-day strike in Barcelona.

An idea whose time has come

The idea of a 4-day week gained renewed momentum during the Corona pandemic. Just recently, left-wing politicians and European Union representatives sent an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. In their letter they call for the introduction of the 4-day week to combat the effects of the pandemic. The letter states, that it not only helps combat unemployment, but also provides an opportunity to rethink our work patterns. Other positive side effects mark the significant reduction of stress, reducing health risks and reduced energy consumption to fight the climate crisis.

“With the 4-day week (32 hours) we have opened a real debate of our times. This is always controversial because it opens up new ground. What subject is more important for politics than the time we have for living?”

This article is republished from the English translation on which is a translation of the German language original which can be found here.

The original article can be found here