Spain to test cut in work hours to boost productivity
MADRID — Spain has launched a pilot project to help small and medium-scale industrial companies cut the work 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 ($10.63-million) plan on Friday.
These improvements should be implemented within one year, while the company must maintain the program 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.
The government, in the first year of the project, will partly finance wage costs of companies that reduce working hours, and will also help fund training and the cost of measures to improve productivity.
Share of workforce
Only workers with full-time permanent contract can be a part of the program, and women should be represented according to their share of a company’s workforce.
At least 30 percent of workers must reduce their hours if a company employs up to 20 of them.
If a company has between 21 and 249 employees, at least 25 percent of its workers must be included in the plan.
Spanish telecom giant Telefonica has offered its employees the opportunity to work four days a week—extending a pilot program that initially involved about 150 workers who, in exchange, took a 12-percent pay cut.