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Spain set to slash work week to 37.5 hours

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
Spain set to slash work week to 37.5 hours
Spain's Minister of Labour and Social Economy Yolanda Díaz is spearheading the reduction of the week in the country. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Spanish Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz has said her ministry will soon reduce the working week by two and a half hours, a decision which will improve the work-life balance of 12 million employees across the country.

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Spanish Second Deputy Prime Minister and Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz has committed herself to introducing a reduction of the work week from 40 hours to 37.5 hours as a means of improving the work-life balance of Spain’s workforce and increasing productivity.

The head of hard-left Sumar intends to achieve this by reaching an agreement with Spanish work unions UGT and CCOO, while excluding Spain’s business associations from the negotiating table. 

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"We are going to carry out a reduction in the working day to 37.5 hours per week without any salary reduction," Díaz stressed on Monday.

“We’re going to try to reach an agreement, which I would like to be three ways; but if it cannot be, it will be two ways, but we’re going to get it done," she stated about her intention to approve the new work week hours without the green light from business group CEOE. 

PSOE and Sumar, the two left-wing parties which form Spain’s new governing coalition, had the work week reduction as one of the key promises of their legislative pact, but Díaz had already proposed the idea when she headed the Labour Ministry during the previous government.

Two in every three Spaniards support the move, according to a survey by the 40db Institute conducted for El País and Cadena Ser. 

The 40-hour full-time work week was first brought into law in Spain in 1983.

A reduction of two and a half hours a week would equate to 30 minutes a day, in essence leaving work half an hour early.

The deal between PSOE and Sumar would see the progressive drop in weekly work hours be of 1.5 hours in 2024 (38.5 hours) and of 2.5 hours in 2025.

READ ALSO: What are my rights if I work extra hours in Spain?

According to Díaz’s estimates, 12 million contract workers in Spain’s private sector will benefit from the decision, by “improving the compatibility of work with other uses of time such as caring for loved ones, further education, leisure or socialising”. 

"There is sufficient technology, production models have changed," Díaz argued.

Reacting to Díaz’s words, the president of Spain’s business association CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, said that "no one is saying that working hours cannot be reduced” but “not all sectors are the same, that's why what we propose is that it be done sector by sector , at each negotiating table, which is how it has always been done”.

Earlier in January, Spain's labour minister reached an agreement with the country’s unions to raise the minimum wage in 2024 by €54 per month over 14 payments, a measure which was also contested by business associations. 

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