Could Spain's four-day work-week go mainstream post-pandemic?

From Errejón’s perspective, it is precisely because the economy, long dependent on the kind of mass tourism that ceased to exist during the pandemic, is in crisis that the change is especially relevant now. And there is some research to back him up. In a study published in January in the Cambridge Journal of Economics, Luis Cárdenas and Paloma Villanueva establish that a 5-hour reduction in work hours across Spain in 2017 would have created 560,000 jobs, raised salaries nationally by 3.7% and increased the GDP by 1.4%.

Companies that reduce their employees’ hours generally have to hire more staff to maintain the same level of productivity, the researchers note. Additional salaries drive costs up, but a those can be largely offset by raising prices. ”Because it is hiring more people who are then spending more, and prices are increasing, the overall effect is positive,” Cárdenas, an economist at Madrid’s Complutense University, said in an interview.

Yet there are other concerns beyond the purely economic ones. Chinchilla also sees the plan as potentially counter-productive when it comes to achieving work/life balance. “Reducing the work week to four days means either cutting salaries or adding hours, and the work day in Spain is already really long,” she says. “What we need is more flexibility on these questions, not more limits.”