4th Dec 2023

Spanish plan to cut working week to 38.5 hours in 2024

  • Spain proposes to cut the working week to 38.5 hours next year, and to 37.5 hours by 2025 (Photo: Unsplash)
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A shorter working week could be on the cards in Spain — if an agreement between the socialists (PSOE) and the leftwing Sumar party to form a government goes through.

Following the inconclusive results of July's election, acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez is still trying to secure a sufficient parliamentary majority.

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  • Sumar leader Yolanda Díaz: 'I would like to make a simple proposal: after work, workers should be able to go home an hour early to rest, be with their loved ones or do whatever they want' Sumar leader Yolanda Díaz (Photo: Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa)

On Tuesday (24 October), Sanchez reached an agreement with Sumar to form a government, but further negotiations (and conditions) with two Catalan separatist parties are not as straightforward, and still ongoing.

Working fewer hours for the same pay is one of Sumar's key proposals for the next mandate, which aims to reduce the working week to 38.5 hours by 2024 and 37.5 hours by 2025.

"I would like to make a simple proposal: after work, workers should be able to go home an hour early to rest, be with their loved ones or do whatever they want," said labour minister and Sumar's leader Yolanda Díaz ahead of the Spanish elections.

"It is revolutionary because time is the most precious thing for those of us who do not have big properties or significant surnames," she added.

The reduction in working hours is set to become law next year, and the Spanish ministry of employment has calculated that it will benefit 12 million workers in the next two years — approximately 70 percent of the workforce.

The ultimate goal is a 32-hour week, following a growing wave of pilot schemes around the world to test how a four-day week could work and what the benefits would be for both employers and employees.

However, there are still no legislative proposals to implement this

In Belgium workers, for comparison, have the right to work fewer days, but with no reduction in working hours.

The Spanish proposal would change this, reducing workers' weekly hours in two years' time to the EU average for 20-64 year olds in 2022.

Although the differences from one EU country to another are significant, the Eurostat figures are telling.

In 2022, Greece, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria had the longest working weeks in the bloc, with an average of more than 40 hours.

Meanwhile, the average working week in the Netherlands is 33.2 hours, 35.3 hours in Germany, and 35.4 hours in Denmark.

Variations can also be observed among different occupations. For example, skilled agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers were the ones working longer periods of time (nearly 44 hours), followed by managers (43.3 hours).

On the other hand, clerical support workers and those with elementary occupations recorded the shortest working weeks (32.5 hours).


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