Spain launches a pilot programme for reducing the working week.
The Spanish government has announced a 10 million euro pilot project for SMEs to reduce the working day while maintaining employee salaries and boosting productivity.
The programme will last at least 24 months and the aim is for companies who take part to come up with better ways of organising their staff which promote enough productivity to compensate for the lost hours. These improvements must be implemented within one year of taking part in the pilot.
Interested companies must commit to reducing the ordinary full-time working day by a minimum of 10% on a weekly basis. This commitment will last for at least two years and will only affect workers with an indefinite full-time contract. The management of this reduction in hours will depend on each company and the agreement reached with workers.
The government says that, given that it is a pilot project with a limited budget, it has been decided to restrict it to the industrial sector (including industrial services) in order to achieve sufficient statistical representation to allow conclusions to be drawn based on data that can later lead to extending the pilot to the rest of the the economy.
The proposed number of workers participating in the pilot project depends on company size: companies with up to 20 workers need to have at least 30% of their workers in the pilot. Companies with between 21 and 249 workers, must have at least 25% of the workforce in the pilot.
Minister of Industry Maria Reyes Maroto said: “By launching this pilot programme we fulfill our commitment to offer SMEs a new way of organizing their working hours by applying reductions in working time while maintaining wages and improving their business results. I encourage companies and workers to take advantage of this programme.”
Meanwhile, in the UK Atom Bank announced that it is permanently moving to a four-day working week after a successful trial saw staff applications rise by a third and the number of employees leaving the firm fall by a fifth. The business also saw a record increase in customers, with 80,000 people joining and savings doubling to £5bn. The bank said moving staff to a four-day week without a cut in salary had resulted in “a significant positive impact on employees, customer service, and operations”, although it was not without difficulties in terms of planning, communication and listening.