Adios to insane hours? Spain t

Workers remove scaffolding at high altitude in Oviedo, Spain. Spanish employees typically work a high number of hours compared to other European countries. Image: Adobe Stock

Adios to insane hours? Spain to trial four-day work week

With Spain having among Europe’s highest work hours, the government is launching a programme to trial the viability of a four-day work week.

Adios to insane hours? Spain t

Workers remove scaffolding at high altitude in Oviedo, Spain. Spanish employees typically work a high number of hours compared to other European countries. Image: Adobe Stock

Spain is moving ahead with plans to try out a four-day work week in 2021 in a country often incorrectly perceived as one where people don’t work very hard because the famous three-hour Spanish “siesta”.

In reality, however, Spanish workers on average have among the highest number of working hours in Europe.

A four-day work week has been on the cards for numerous countries over the last few years. Several leaders have suggested the implementation of a four-day work week since the idea has numerous benefits for employers, employees and the environment.


The four-day work week has been gaining favour in various countries around the world. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin introduced the idea of a four-day work week in the Nordic country. Marin highlighted that it would benefit workers and allow them to spend more time with families.

In May 2020, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also suggested implementing a four-day work week in her country. The idea behind it was to create more flexibility for employees and to support New Zealand’s ailing tourism sector. The extra time off work, she said, would stimulate domestic tourism throughout the country.

“I’d really encourage people to think about that if you’re an employer and in a position to do so. To think about if that’s something that would work for your workplace because it certainly would help tourism all around the country,” Ardern said, as quoted by The Guardian.


There are several benefits to having four-day work week. Employees benefit by having more time at home. This leads to an improved work-life balance, which employees in many countries are eager to attain.

Business Insider reports that a similar test project was undertaken by Microsoft in Japan in 2019. The experiment was conducted during August, offering workers more flexibility and reduced working hours.

Microsoft found that employee productivity increased by 39.9% during August 2019, compared to the same month the year before.

Japan’s project also had various environmental benefits. There was a significant reduction in the use of resources. Energy consumption dropped by 23% and use of paper dropped by 58.7%. There were also fewer carbon emissions from reduced use of vehicles and other forms of transportation used by workers.


Some parties in Spain are advocating for working hours more comparable in number to those being worked elsewhere in Europe. Image: Adobe Stock

The four-day work week pilot programme in Spain will likely see a relatively small number of employers engaged in the experiment. The project will be the first of its kind in the world, with the backing of the Spanish government.

“Spain is one of the countries where workers put in more hours than the European average. But we’re not among the most productive countries. I maintain that working more hours does not mean working better,” Iñigo Errejón of Spain’s Mas Pais leftist party said, as quoted by The Guardian.


The Guardian reports that the Spanish government agreed to foot the bill for the four-day work week project, which should start in the European autumn this year.

According to The Guardian, the Spanish government was yet to agree to the length of the pilot programme. However, the government would carry the costs for employees taking part in the trial.

True reduction of working hours sought

Mas Pais has proposed a three-year period for the pilot programme. Companies would be able to test a 32-hour work week for their employees. The project is expected to cost €50m over three years.

The Spanish government would pick up the bill for companies whose employees were involved in the four-day work week trial. It would be responsible for 100% of the company costs during the first year, 50% during the second year and 33% of costs during the third year, the political party proposed.     

“With these figures, we calculate that we could have around 200 companies participate, with a total of anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 workers. The only red lines are that we want to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs,” Mas Pais’s Hector Tejero said, as quoted by The Guardian.

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