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Spain to trial a cut in work hours to help boost companies' productivity

People in the street in Madrid
People in the street in Madrid Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Euronews with Reuters
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Spain has become the latest country to announce a trial of a shortened week to see how it would impact companies and workers.


Spain has launched a pilot project to help small and medium-sized industrial companies cut the working week by at least half a day without denting salaries in an attempt to boost productivity.

The companies requesting the aid must design ways to increase productivity that compensate for wage cost overruns, the Industry Ministry said in a press release outlining the €10 million euro plan on Friday.

These improvements should be implemented within one year, while the company must maintain the programme for at least two years.

Debate over the so-called "Scandinavian model," which holds that productivity will rise if working hours are dropped, is not new but it gained traction during the COVID-19 crisis among companies, the public sector and politicians.

Only for full-time permanent staff

In the first year of the project the government will partly finance wage costs of companies that reduce their working hours and will also help fund training and the cost of measures to improve productivity.

Only workers with full-time permanent contract can be a part of the programme, and women should be represented according to their share in a company's workforce.

At least 30 per cent of the workforce must reduce their working hours if a company has up to 20 workers, while if a company has between 21 and 249 employees at least 25 per cent of its workers must be part of the plan.

Spanish telecom giant Telefonica has offered its employees the opportunity to work a four-day week, extending a pilot programme that initially involved about 150 workers, but in exchange for a 12 per cent pay cut.

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