Spain May Soon Be Testing Out a 4-Day Workweek, One of the First of Its Kind in Europe

Arguments for adding an extra day to the weekend include boosting productivity and improving mental health

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The Spanish government has reportedly agreed to the launch of a new pilot project that would allow companies to give their employees a four-day workweek, with the goal of boosting not only productivity, but improving workers' mental health as well.

Más País, a leftwing party in Spain, got the okay from the government in January for the project, and a meeting will likely take place soon to sort through the details, the Guardian reported.

"We're launching into the real debate of our times," Iñigo Errejón, a member of the party, wrote on Twitter. "It's an idea whose time has come."

Though details remain up in the air, Más País has proposed a three-year project worth the equivalent of about $59.5 million, which would allow companies to give it a try with minimal risk, as government funding would cover the cost of the experiment at 100 percent the first year, 50 percent the second year and 33 percent the third year, according to the Guardian.

"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," party member Héctor Tejero told the outlet. "The only red lines are that we to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs."

Though the experiment would make Spain among the first countries to give a 32-hour workweek a try, it wouldn't be the first time the world has seen something similar.

France reportedly capped the workweek at 35 hours in 1998, while Spain has also limited the workday to eight hours in recent years.

In 2019, a Microsoft experiment that gave employees in Japan a four-day workweek was a success, and productivity went up by 40 percent when compared to the same month a year earlier.

Employees' happiness also saw a boost, with more than 90 percent saying they'd been impacted by the adjustments.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested employees switch to the schedule "if that's something that would work for your workplace," the Washington Post reported.

As seen in the Microsoft trial, arguments for reducing the workweek mainly center around increasing productivity, improving mental health and fighting climate change.

According the Guardian, Tejero cited the example of Software Delsol, a Spanish company that became the first in the country to implement the change last year. Tejero said the company saw fewer absences, a boost in productivity, and happier workers.

"Spain is one of the countries where workers put in more hours than the European average," Errejón told the outlet. "I maintain that working more hours does not mean working better."

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