The Spanish government is to pay €150,000 to small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) that take part in a trial to adopt a four-day working week without any reduction in their staff’s salaries.
A number of countries around the world have also tested the four-day working week, with encouraging results. The largest trial to date was carried out in the UK, where 86% of the 70 companies that took part were satisfied with the results and said that they would continue with a reduced week for employees.
The Spanish Ministry of Industry and Commerce will pay €150,000 to SMEs who take part in a trial over a period of two years. The companies will have to reduce their staff’s weekly work hours by at least 10% during the entire two year pilot scheme, yet without reducing salaries.
The trial project is part of an agreement between the Spanish coalition government and the left-wing Más País group, and which guarantees their support for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s 2023 national budget.
The trial will start with around 60 to 70 SMEs in Spain, with the government allocating a budget of €10 million to cover any potential losses incurred by those taking part, plus any training costs aimed at increasing efficiency. The SMEs participating will also have to adopt measures to evaluate productivity during the trial.
The aim is to increase productivity and offer a better work-life balance, resulting in improved physical and mental health conditions to workers.
Other Spanish corporations and larger companies have offered their staff reduced working hours, but with reduced salaries. Japanese corporations have also started to consider four-day week trials, as well as some companies in New Zealand, the US and Canada.