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Campaigners for a four-day week pressure government to follow Spain’s lead

BRITAIN — and the rest of the world — should adopt a four-day working week to improve worker wellbeing, the TUC and campaigners said today.

The move could also increase productivity, boost the mental health of workers and help fight climate change, its proponents argue.

The call came as Spain looked set to become one of the first countries in the world to try out a shorter working week after its government agreed to launch a modest pilot project for interested companies.

The issue has come into sharper focus as more people work from home and adopt flexible working patterns during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: "As we build back our economy form the pandemic, we must make sure working people get a fairer share of the wealth they create. Reduced working time and intensity without loss of pay is a great step forward.

"And businesses that have tried a four day week say it's good for business too. Just as in Spain, the UK government should work with unions on how to deliver better jobs for everyone, making the most of new technology to improve working lives."

Joe Ryle of the 4 Day Week Campaign told the Star: “We know from history that shorter working hours are the best way of spreading existing work more equally across the economy in times of economic recession and crisis.

“The [Westminster] government and the rest of the world should learn from the Spanish example and embrace shorter working hours.”

Earlier this year, the small left-wing party Mas Pais announced that the Spain’s centre-left Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had accepted its proposal to test out the idea. Talks have since been held, with the next meeting expected to take place in the coming weeks.

Mas Pais has proposed a €50 million (£42.9m) three-year project that would allow companies to trial reduced hours with minimal risk.

It would be the first national initiative to reduce working hours since France began moving towards capping the work week at 35 hours in 1998.

A 44-day strike in Barcelona in 1919 resulted in Spain becoming one of the first countries in western Europe to adopt the eight-hour workday.

 

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