Until now, the in-depth reform of working hours and the organization of the working day has been one of the central pieces of the electoral proposals of the current second vice president of the Government, Minister of Labor and candidate of Sumar to preside over the Executive, Yolanda Diaz. For her and her team at the ministry, the working day of eight hours a day and 40 hours a week is something from the last century, which has become outdated and, therefore, must be reduced.
In fact, since he arrived at the ministry in January 2020, he had in mind the need to reorganize working time in Spain and, for this, he commissioned an exhaustive report from more than 60 national and international experts that would serve as the basis for drafting a law of time uses and time rationalization. However, the electoral advance has put an end to this regulation, which will not go ahead this legislature.
But Díaz, far from giving up on this project, has incorporated many of the proposals included in that document, presented by the minister last week, into the Sumar program. Among these initiatives, the second vice president launched this Friday one of the most powerful, if not the most, in terms of social and economic impact: the reduction of the maximum working day from the current 40 hours per week to a maximum of 32 in annual average and no salary cut. This would be carried out progressively —in a “reasonable period” that could be around ten years (starting in 2032)— without reducing wages and always negotiated through social dialogue with employers and unions.
Although before reaching that maximum working day of 32 hours, the minister announced this Friday that a first step would be for a reduction in working hours to come into force in 2024, so that the maximum is already on that date at 37.5 weekly hours on annual average and without salary reduction. This would mean advancing this first time cut by two years, since in the document that the experts prepared for Díaz to elaborate this law, the 37.5 hours entered in January 2026.
In addition, to continue with the recommendations of the experts to write this future norm, when the maximum legal working day is already 32 hours a week, the law would also include the proviso that “the working day may not exceed 48 hours a week on average in computation four-monthly, including overtime, being able to extend the reference period to a maximum of six months by sectoral collective bargaining, ”says the proposal document commissioned by Díaz.
This legal change would mean a new wording of article 34.1 of the Workers’ Statute, but the plan of Díaz’s team, at the head of the Ministry of Labor, could also be to “establish various measures to stimulate collective bargaining processes aimed at reorganizing co-responsibility and the gradual reduction of working time”, according to the authors of the report.
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These incentives could be framed within the agreements for employment within the framework of collective bargaining provided for in the royal decree-law of last January on urgent measures for incentives for labor recruitment. And, therefore, its financing could be carried out with European funds linked to component 23 of the National Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan dedicated to the New public policies for a dynamic, resilient and inclusive labor market.
Justification of the measure
Díaz’s team justifies this proposal to reduce and limit the working day “in a trend of progressive reduction of the working day in different neighboring countries, as derived from the General Study of the International Labor Organization of 2018”; and on the need to align the Spanish regulation on maximum working hours with the European average of negotiated hours which, according to Eurofound —the European Union consultative body on labor matters— is 37.8 hours. They add that in Spain, “a large majority of collective agreements establish the maximum weekly limitation of the working day, with a maximum of 38.5 hours at the company level and a maximum of between 38 and 39.5 at the supracorporate”.
Furthermore, in public administrations, although the weekly working day is generally established at 37.5 hours, as of the General State Budget Law for 2023, the existing limitations for each public administration to establish, after negotiation, have been eliminated. collective, a working day less than the general one, which can be 35 hours a week.