Spain's Valencia begins four-day work week trial

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Spain's Valencia begins four-day work week trial
In April, leading into the the first week of May, there will be four public holidays on four consecutive Mondays in Valencia. Photo: Pixabay.

This week the city of Valencia has started trialling a four-day working week thanks to four consecutive public holidays.


In April, leading into the first week of May, there will be four public holidays on four consecutive Mondays in Valencia. A quirk of the calendar, you might think, but no, putting these public holidays in a row was a conscious decision made by the local council - they even moved the feast day of San Vicente Mártir, the patron saint of the city, from January 22nd to April 14th in order to be able to do so.

But why would they do that? To trial a four-day working week (without a reduction in salary) and study the effects it has on the city and its locals.

READ ALSO: Spain's public and regional holidays in 2023: How to make the most of them

The trial, something agreed upon between employers, unions and local government, is to test a 32-hour working week. The study will randomly survey over 2000 Valencianos in May and June, after the trial period has finished, to try and understand how workers used those four extra days and how it affected them, whether it be the effect on family, the local environment, mental health, or the consequences that these extra days have on domestic tourism in the city, the local hospitality sector, traffic and the use of public transport.

The Mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, has explained the thinking behind the trial in local Valencian press: "We just want to ask society if a day like this would be positive. If it would be good for people, for the environment, or for certain productive sectors". 

Ribó also noted that there is a positive consensus (as well as high expectations) towards the trial, citing polling of 2,358 local residents who gave the idea a score of 7.9 points out of 10. Interestingly, the idea has also proven to be popular across the board with both businesses and unions backing the plan.

Growara, a Valencia-based consultancy firm that implemented a four-day working week back in 2022, saw such benefits from the shortened schedule that they now advise their clients to do the same. CEO Julio Braceli told La Vanguardia: "those [companies] that have adopted this schedule have a competitive advantage over others in attracting talent". 


Similarly, union leaders seem positive about the trial period. Ana García Alcolea, secretary general of CCOO-PV, told the local press that the aim is to improve "the working and living conditions of the working class," as well as giving the local economy a boost because "having more leisure is equivalent to more productivity, more consumption and more job generation". 

With this experiment, Valencia joins cities in countries such as Lithuania, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Portugal, and Japan, where similar trials have been tried out. Where Valencia differs somewhat, however, is that whereas trials in other places have focused primarily on the effect of a shortened working week on business, labour, and public administration, the Valencia trial will focus more on "citizen aspects". 

Ribó has been keen to emphasise that the use of public holidays does not mean an overall reduction in working hours: "The annual calculation of hours worked will not be reduced... This is not a reduction programme. That's not our question, that's the employers'".


In addition to this trial, the local government also offers subsidies to companies that reduce the working week without cutting employees' salaries. Spain's Ministry of Industry announced in December 2022 that financial aid for SMEs that decided to try the four-day work week without salary reductions would also be made available. 

The conclusions of the Valencian trial are expected to be released on July 20th.


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