Labor rights. Better conditions and more protection in the workplace. Social Security. Gender equality. Paid vacations. Fewer hours of weekly work. Teleworking Throughout history, important labor achievements have been achieved that have improved the conditions of people in their jobs.
Now, the option of implementing the 4-day workday is experiencing a new boost after the result of the call by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism was made public, through the EOI Public Foundation, which grants aid to small and medium-sized companies. Industrial companies that implement working 4 days a week and improve their productivity.
After the regulation of teleworking can the 4-day workday be the new conquest? Are companies prepared to implement this new model? And what does our legal and labor system say about it? We explain everything to you in this article.
The 4-day work day: definition and characteristics
The 4-day workday is a form of work organization in which people work a total of four days a week instead of the traditional five. In this model, the daily work duration can be adjusted to meet the total hours required by law.
The basic idea of this model is that working a 4-day workday per week can increase the productivity and well-being of workers, also allowing them to enjoy an additional day of rest during the week. This will help increase the efficiency and quality of work performed.
According to company needs
As there is no specific regulation regarding the four-day workweek, companies and employees must reach an agreement when implementing it. It may be advisable to work a few additional hours on weekdays to compensate for the reduced workday.
On other occasions, they may choose to proportionately reduce the total number of hours worked per week. In the end, the adoption of some measures or others will depend on the company’s voluntariness and the employee’s acceptance.
How many hours do you work in a 4-day workday?
Many countries currently lack a specific law on the 4-day workday. Hence, companies that are implementing this new work organization system adopt different routes depending on their needs, objectives, and business culture.
As we will see in some examples at the end of the article, there are those that have concentrated 40 hours in four days, while others have chosen to reduce the working day to 32 hours.
The debate about whether the working day should be materialized by compressing 40 hours into four days or, on the contrary, reducing working hours is currently underway. However, public administrations, both in initiatives such as that of the Valencian Community or the aforementioned one of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, are promoting a 32-hour work week.
Can a 4-day work week be imposed?
The lack of regulation of the 4-day working day means that the adoption of this model depends on an agreement between the company and the worker. The current law prohibits employers from imposing a four-day workday , much less if it means a cut in the payroll.
Despite this, it should be noted that the current regulations are flexible enough to adapt to a four-day work model without salary reduction .
In this sense, it should be emphasized that no Spanish law requires that the working day be eight hours. It is not even mandatory that the distribution be from Monday to Friday, so the legal instruments to implement a working day of four days and 32 hours weeks exist in the Spanish legal system.
This reality has opened a debate among experts about the suitability, or not, of regulating the four-day day specifically. Some oppose establishing a legal imposition without taking into account the circumstances of productivity and heterogeneity of companies.
They argue that it could have an undesired effect on the reduction of salaries in sectors with less capacity to adapt to the system and lead to economic losses due to the use of this model of 4 days a work week .
Impact on workers’ salaries
In this situation, companies could benefit from ERTES. As a solution and alternative to regulation by law, experts propose collective bargaining and sectoral regulations to establish this new form of work organization . In this context and as we have highlighted above, the implementation of this model depends on the agreements between companies and workers. In the last two years, agreements of all kinds have been made.
A small agency in Valencia is implementing the 32-hour model without salary reduction , while others, such as Zataca Systems from Elche , have chosen to maintain the salary, but condensing the volume of work from five days into four (37.5 hours in Their case).
Desigual chose to reduce the salary of its workers by 6.5% after putting it to a vote and going from 39.5 hours per week to 34.5 hours.
What aid exists for the 4-day journey?
Call from the Ministry of Industry for the 4-day work day
At this time, Many countries has one national aid line (whose registration period is already closed) to implement the 4-day work week, with a reduction in working time and without affecting salaries. This call has been aimed at small and medium-sized industrial companies.
To qualify for aid, this call includes:
- Partially finance the salary costs of each company derived from workers who reduce their working hours during the first year up to a maximum of 150,000 euros, training, and the cost of organizational measures to implement the pilot.
- In companies with up to 10 people, it covers 90% of personnel costs.
- In companies with between 11 and 52 people, it covers 80%.
- In companies with between 53 and 249 people, it subsidizes 75%.
The requirements that the 41 selected industrial SMEs had to meet were:
- Cut the weekly calculation of working hours by at least 10%.
- Maintain the reduction of the working day to four days for two years without in any case implying a decrease in the remuneration received by employees.
- This measure only affects employees with a full-time indefinite contract.
- The proposal for the number of workers participating in this modality must affect at least a percentage of the workforce according to size:
- Companies with up to 20 employees must incorporate at least 30% of the workers.
- In teams of between 21 and 249 workers, around 25% of the workforce must be covered.
4-day day in the Valencian Community
In addition to the national call, Valencian companies can also benefit from a line of aid to implement the 32-hour work day . It should be noted that the Valencian Community has been the first autonomous community to promote a call of these characteristics and facilitate the transition towards this type of work model in which the working day is reduced by 20% or 32 hours per week, without being seen staff salaries affected.
Currently, it is immersed in its second call (the application period ends on May 31, 2023), with a duration of three years (not two like that of the Ministry of Industry). Consider the following characteristics:
- Amount of aid:
The Department of Industry will grant the first full year of application of the program, there will be a subsidy of 5,492.19 euros for each worker incorporated into the Plan to reduce working hours; 2,746.10 the second year, and 1,373.05 euros the third. In this way, the maximum amount of the subsidy that the beneficiary company may receive will be 9,611.34 euros for each assigned worker.
In addition, the Valencian Employment and Training Service will offer subsidies ranging between 45% and 9.5% of the Minimum Interprofessional Wage to companies that participate in the working day rationalization program that hire unemployed people registered with Labora.
- Affected workers:
In companies with up to 49 people, 30% of the workforce must be affected by the reduction in hours. This percentage will be reduced to 20% in the case of companies with 50 or more workers.
Men and women must participate in similar proportions to the preexisting gender distribution among all workers with a full-time employment contract. A maximum deviation of 10% is allowed.
Companies must prepare a ‘Plan for Reducing Working Hours and Improving Productivity’ which indicates the organizational or training measures that are planned to be implemented to optimize working time.
Change of mentality: technology and innovation to work and live better
The promotion of the 4-day work week and the promotion of 32 hours of work per week are the result of a change in mentality in which people are valued, giving them confidence, flexibility, and more resources to enjoy their time Free.
New technologies and digitalization, as well as innovation and creativity, are essential tools to achieve this new social achievement that, according to various studies carried out, have managed to increase business productivity by more than 1.5% thanks to better working conditions. And employee health improves.
The latest UK 4 Day Week study of 3,000 employees shows that burnout syndrome was reduced by 70% among participants, while those with stress were reduced by 40%.
These figures are linked to fewer sick leaves and a better work environment, which improves the attractiveness of participating companies when it comes to attracting talent. In the end, 90% of the companies that had participated were going to continue with the 32 hours per week.
Despite the success of this pilot test in the United Kingdom, experts warn that the reduction in working hours is not linked to an increase in productivity itself. Companies have to adapt and generate a cultural change that allows it, either with the support of technology or with a change in the production model.
Identify dead hours and eliminate them. Reorganize schedules. Replace low-value jobs. Introduce improvements. The final objective: that the worker contributes value throughout the time he is working.
Benefits and why it is better to work four days instead of five
Pilot programs that encourage a four-day workweek, reducing work time and maintaining salaries, are giving good results. Business management is more efficient and productivity increases in the company, with workers earning the same salary. Work absenteeism falls.
All this is combined with the fact that people have more weekly free time, which is favorable for family reconciliation or leisure. They are happier. Let’s look at some of these benefits in detail:
Throughout history, productivity has increased while the working day has been reduced. Joan Sanchis, professor of Applied Economics at the University of Valencia and author of the book « Four Days. Work less to live in a better world, he remembers that in Spain the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita has multiplied on average about 20 times while working time in Spain in the last 100 years has been reduced by 40% .
Following this trend and with existing technology, he argues that it is possible to improve productivity by taking a new leap by reducing weekly working time to 32 hours.
Studies such as the one already mentioned from the United Kingdom or a previous one carried out by Stanford University also find a direct relationship between unproductivity and long working hours : working more hours does not necessarily mean finishing tasks and objectives on time and efficiently. .
Family conciliation and better health
Having one more day off a week favors family conciliation. In addition, it also has a direct impact on health, since people can better control their stress levels. In this regard, the United Kingdom study reveals:
- 71% of employed people say they have less “burnout.”
- 39% declare that they are less stressed than at the beginning of the test.
- 60% recognize that it is much easier for them to reconcile their work life with their family life, including their social life.
- Fewer sick leave and rotations
Implementing the four-day workday also generates benefits for the company from the point of view of personnel management. According to the same British study, sick leave was reduced by 65% and the number of people leaving the company decreased by 57%.
Less gender gap
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) of the United Kingdom, one of the factors that most affects the gender gap is the hours dedicated to childcare and housework. 89% of people who identify as women in this country say they cannot apply for eight-hour jobs because they do not have the support to be able to raise their children or take care of their partners.
Fewer emissions of polluting gases.
A report published by the Institute for Economic and Political Analysis of the University of Massachusetts (PERI) estimates that if the ordinary work day were reduced by 10%, the individual carbon footprint would contract by 14.6 %. If this were increased by 25%, (or one working day less), emissions of gases such as CO2 could fall by up to 36.6%, which would help minimize global warming and climate change.
The latest revolution in the work sector?
There is no doubt that something is changing in the labor market. People increasingly want to have more flexibility and free time to balance their professional and family lives. For this reason, the four-day workday is becoming an increasingly attractive solution in the business community.
Some firms concentrate all their hours into four days. Others reduce them without implying a reduction in salary because it improves productivity and worker satisfaction.
In this 21st century, it seems that there is a predisposition to achieve a new labor achievement consisting of the reduction to 32 hours of work per week, thus joining other historical revolutions such as the reduction from 6 to 5 days a week, the 8-hour model hours a day —which celebrated a century of validity in 2019— or the most recent of teleworking.
Control the 4-day workday in your company
Offering opportunities and benefits to improve their professional and personal development is an unbeatable opportunity for distinction for companies. As we have already seen, by implementing a 4-day workday, the team will give its best.
For this, we recommend using a time management tool with which carrying out shift management and team time control has never been easier:
- Manage different types of work days thanks to the time control and work shift management function.
- Monitor staff working time and automatically calculate hours worked per employee.
- Sending notifications to workers about their work shifts, improving their experience and communication.
- Possibility of adding additional information such as locations or comments with modifications to work shifts.