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Spain is already known for its afternoon siestas, but now the country may take a new approach to work-life balance with the introduction of a permanent four-day workweek. The idea was proposed by Spanish political party Más País and recently received government approval for a pilot program trialing the shortened workweek.
According to The Guardian, the president of Más País, Íñigo Errejón, said, "Spain is one of the countries where workers put in more hours than the European average. But we're not among the most productive countries. I maintain that working more hours does not mean working better."
The exact details of the pilot program are still being discussed among government officials, but Errejón's party has proposed a three-year, 50-million-euro project that would allow companies to try reducing their hours with minimal risk. The costs of a company trialing the four-day workweek, for example, could be covered at 100 percent the first year, 50 percent the second year, and 33 percent the third year.
"With these figures, we calculate that we could have around 200 companies participate, with a total of anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 workers," Héctor Tejero of Más País said, according to The Guardian. "The only red lines are that we want to see a true reduction of working hours and no loss of salary or jobs."
Tejero also said that the pilot program could launch as early as this upcoming fall, adding that "Spain will be the first country to undertake a trial of this magnitude. A pilot project like this hasn't been undertaken anywhere in the world."
Though no other country has officially tried to implement a four-day workweek, the idea has been gaining popularity in recent years. Several European government officials, including those in Germany and the U.K., have expressed their support for a four-day workweek. New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, also once suggested it might be a way to help the country recover post-COVID.