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Experts contradict the Government: it is a good time for the 4-day week


The four-day work week political debate has had little run. The initiative presented by United We Can, first, and brought to Congress by More Country has recently been postponed to 2022 because it will depend on next year's Budgets and not on European funds. A decision by the Executive of Pedro Sánchez that throws the ball forward in a matter of high social sensitivity and that would bring great economic benefits at a time when a boost to growth is needed, according to experts.

Thus, while the Government will wait for the approval of the next State accounts to allocate the 50 million that the Ministry of Industry has deemed necessary to deploy a short-time pilot program, popular support is increasing. A 69% of the population would support "a lot or a lot" the implementation of the 32-hour work week -either in its version of four days or free afternoons but always without a salary reduction-, especially women (72.2%), according to the 'online' survey carried out by 40db through a sample of a thousand people among the 5 and April 8 for Más Madrid, Más País, Verdes Equo and Compromís.

In addition, the economic benefits of the reduction of the working day will be noticed in a "decrease in structural unemployment, in an increase in consumption and in improvements in the effectiveness of the workforce ", according to researchers from the Open University of Catalonia (UOC)." It has been shown that, if people work fewer hours, they are more productive and have more hours of work. leisure, which favors consumption ", explains Daniel Toscani, collaborating professor at the UOC's Law and Political Science Studies.

"In cases where it has been applied this type of change has always appeared an increase in perceived well-being and an improvement in productivity ", says Manel Fernández Jaria, also a collaborating professor at the UOC. The growth of employment, due to the hiring of personnel to cover the hours that others stop working, and the appearance of small projects of entrepreneurship are other benefits pointed out by Antonio Fernández García, also an expert in Law and Political Science Studies at the university center.

In order to achieve these benefits, it would be necessary to overcome, the specialists point out, tendency to be physically in the office. "Each worker is at his job, but is not performing his duties. They are face-to-face and unproductive hours because, after a certain number of hours, the attention is not the same", Toscani warns, to which they are added the psychological effects of an "empty" job.

"It directly affects motivation, work capacity and self-esteem and it can contribute to creating the syndrome of professional burnout ", adds Fernández Jaria. Working for objectives seems a solution, when they are not jobs related to services or customer service that require a physical presence, but it is not always so. In this context , the pandemic would have helped a gradual change of mentality in which teleworking or the reduction of hours of shops and hospitality could come to stay.


In any case, the experts regret that there is not, at the moment, in Spain the will to reach an agreement to implement this reduction in working hours.

In case of question, the experts offer solutions to adopt the measure. From the economic sphere, Toscani believes that the State should, as in France, assume your spending by changing the destination of current hiring grants, which, he says, "have been shown to be ineffective in creating employment" and is committed to a 32-hour day, compared to other studies that call for 35, in order to end the "structural unemployment". "Even in the greatest times of economic boom we have never been able to lower the figures," he recalls.

With regard to how to implement the measure, he believes that should be given "freedom and flexibility" for the total computation of annual hours of work. Fernández Jaria supports the negotiation between the staff and the organization's management, but considers the extension of the weekend to three days "more attractive". It gives numerous examples of companies that have adopted different reductions in working hours, such as Software Delsol or Mercadona, in Spain, as well as Perpetual Guardian, in New Zealand, or Microsoft, in Japan. "It's a open debate, like the one that in its day was opened to implement the 40-hour day, on weekends without work or annual vacations, "he concludes.

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