The victory of the conservatives in the March elections should not affect the fight to reduce working hours in Portugal. After Belgium, New Zealand and Chile, it is now Portugal that, even under the government of the right-wing Democratic Alliance (AD), plans to implement the “four-day week”.

Last year, Portuguese companies participated in a pilot project that measured the impacts of the initiative. The idea, launched internationally by The 4-Day Week Global network, was to give workers one day off per week, in exchange for maintaining productivity.

Because of these characteristics, the project also became known as “100-80-100”. To receive 100% of the salary with only 80% of the working day, the worker needs to maintain 100% of his productivity. It is a bet to reduce working hours without harming salaries.

Tests in the United Kingdom, in 2022, showed the effectiveness of the measure. Last year, it was Portugal’s turn to examine the feasibility of the “four-day week”. The Portuguese government, still under the leadership of then Prime Minister António Costa, from the Socialist Party, hired economist Pedro Gomes to coordinate a six-month experimental program.

An exponent of the cause, Gomes is professor of Economics at the University of London and author of the essay Friday Is the New Saturday”. In an interview with the Portugal Giro blog, the economist stated that the changes in the work routine “were successful”, through adaptations. “Companies feel that all weekly objectives are being met, combined with a huge improvement in workers’ commitment and motivation,” he declared. Of the 41 companies that would participate in the test, 95% approved.

The change from the Socialist Party to the Democratic Alliance could jeopardize the continuity of the proposal. But, according to the Ministry of Labor and Social Solidarity, the “project is still being evaluated”. A pilot program in the public service is also planned.

Until then, Pedro Gomes is in charge of finalizing the final report with observations and analyzes about the “four-day week”. “The project is finished and we are preparing the final report for May or June,” he says. “Of course (change in government) it affects the next steps – but first you have to have the report and then see the position of the new government.”

According to the Portugal Giro – who had access to preliminary results from Gomes’ research –, adjustments to schedules and procedures bring benefits for companies and workers. See below the main advances listed by the blog:

– “Almost half (46%) found it difficult to balance personal and professional life. The number dropped to 8% during the six months of the program. And 65% say they spent more time with their family”

– “The average number of weekly hours (worked) fell from 39.3 to 34 (-13.7%). More than half (58.8%) of companies gave one day off per week and 41.5% decided to implement nine working days every 15 days”

– “Workers (85%) said that, after working in a company with a four-day week, they would only move to a company with traditional hours if they had a salary increase of more than 20%”


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