26 May Pilot programme for reduced working hours without reduction in wages
More than 40 Spanish SMEs applied for the pilot programme for the reduction of working hours without reduction in wages. These companies will receive grants in order to boost productivity improvements while reducing working hours.
Last April, the Government published a call for applications for the granting of aid aimed at boosting productivity improvements in small and medium-sized industrial enterprises (SMEs) through the pilot project for the reduction of working hours. The main objective of this pilot programme is to offer industrial SMEs a new way to organise their working hours with working time reductions without affecting wages and improving their business performance. To do so, the Government allocated a budget of 9.6 million euros to the project.
Along the whole month that the call lasted, a total of 41 companies have applied for the grants. These come from 13 autonomous communities: Catalonia (11), Andalusia (6), Galicia (4), Basque Country (4), Principality of Asturias (3), Community of Navarre (3), Canary Islands (3), Community of Madrid (2), Cantabria (1), Castilla y León (1), Castilla La Mancha (1), Extremadura (1), Balearic Islands (1). In order to apply for the call, the projects had to fulfil the following characteristics:
- Minimum reduction in full-time working hours of 10% of the working week.
- The reduction in working hours will be maintained for two years.
- The reduction in working hours shall only affect workers with a full-time permanent contract at the start of the project.
- The number of participating workers must affect at least a percentage of the workforce of the company or work centre depending on its size (up to 20 employees, 30% of participants; between 21 and 249 employees, 25%).
- Organisational or training measures to optimise working time to be implemented throughout the duration of the pilot project, leading to improved productivity. Indicators to measure the improvement of productivity evolution.
- To be the subject of an agreement with the legal representation of the workers, prior to the application for aid.
This experiment aims to collect data that will allow a reliable evaluation that can be extrapolated to all small and medium-sized enterprises in the industrial sector. In that sense, This project is in line with Yolanda Díaz’s project to reduce working hours through the Law on the Use of Time which, among other things, was intended to cover the rationalisation of working hours and was a promise of the Executive that Díaz intended to address with the social partners in 2022. Díaz’s project did not specifically talk about reducing working hours, but it did talk about promoting a social pact for the rationalisation of timetables and the use of time in order to «completely reorganise working, leisure and care time». It also proposed the right to disconnection, among other promises linked to work.
In this sense, the information that will be collected through the pilot project and the 41 companies that applied to it and were selected –obtaining the necessary aid to reduce working hours without affecting wages– will make it possible to achieve sufficient statistical representativeness to then draw conclusions based on data that can be scaled up to the rest of the economy.
Whether it is politically motivated or not, the implementation of this pilot programme is extremely interesting in order to evaluate with data and experience the possibility of transforming something completely naturalised such as the working day. People’s need for a better balance between work and rest is a reality and, in that sense, this project seeks to provide us with more and better information on that possibility.