many employees are not looking for a wage discount, most firms discover it unfeasible to maintain them – Explica .co

Telefónica was the first large Spanish company to test the four-day week last week. It will be a three-month experiment that a maximum of 10% of its workforce will be able to participate in voluntarily and on condition of a pay cut, but with that concession it has re-raised the debate about the cut in weekly working hours, an issue even discussed by the Government was unceremoniously raised.

Telefónica is the first large company to introduce this short-time working, yes, but not the first in Spain, as Software del Sol from Jaen did this before telecommunications, with around 200 employees and one notable difference: their employees work less, but charge the same.

Two models for the same career aspiration and a new battlefield on which the future of work in Spain will be decided.

The data. A recent LinkedIn survey shows that many Spanish workers, especially 63%, would not be willing to cut their wages by 20% if they worked four days a week. A significant number of them felt that doing less work does not mean being less productive and that regardless of the time spent, they should be paid the same if the same goals are achieved as before. Others pointed out that even if they wanted to, salaries in Spain were so low that they could not be reduced any further.

And the majority of employers believe that maintaining pay with fewer hours worked is not feasible. According to a study by Adecco, 74% of Spanish companies completely reject this option, and 14% think it is only feasible if the reduction in working hours also entails a reduction in wages. Only 12% think they could manage a four-day week with wages the same.

The debate. As with telecommuting, much of the controversy revolves around productivity. Workers believe they can be just as productive in fewer days, and Software del Sol data backs them up: Jaen has reduced absenteeism by 28%, its sales increased by 20% and it assures that it will Has improved the work environment.

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, see this as anything but clear. According to the Adecco study, 52% felt that their productivity margin was not so large that they would introduce a reduced working day, while 42% said that their performance was not comfortable enough that they could keep their pay level with less work.

And the experts are behind them. “There is no economy that can stand 20% of its productivity stolen from it unless it makes a lot of money. Are there any companies with a gross margin greater than 20%? Sure, especially in technology, but most companies are not in that scenario, ”said Javier Blasco, director of the Labor Research Center at the Adecco Group Institute.

In addition, the economic situation does not accompany. “Many companies are now losing or about to make losses, many still with ERTE, with water up to their necks, so such a reform is now impractical,” says José Luis Cendejas, researcher at the Institute for Economic Studies at the University of Francisco de Vitoria.

It is not for everyone. However, experts assume that despite the good economy, the four-day week is not possible for all professions. For Blasco, this can only be achieved in certain industries and professions in which productivity can be increased and costs reduced, especially through process automation and digitization.

“The only way to establish this work week is to maintain performance, and the only way to do that with fewer hours is through automation. Companies that cannot automate will not be able to reduce their weekly working hours, ”he explains.

Though not everyone thinks like the director of the Adecco Group Institute. For Alberto Muñoz, Director of Selection of IT & Digital Profiles at recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, jobs that make it possible to work according to goals and measure performance in relation to results will also be prone to reducing their working hours.

“We see that the trend is gradually advancing towards giving up presentism in favor of rewarding results. But the hard thing so far has been measuring those results in a fair and transparent way, and there are many, many jobs where it will continue to be very difficult to measure that performance, ”he explains.

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The Telefónica model. Muñoz also believes that Telefónica’s option of reducing wages based on working hours could be extended to many other companies and that this would be the formula for a broad four-day week in our country. “The Telefónica model is very secure because it offers flexibility and at the same time protects its margins. The strange thing is that no more companies had offered it before, ”he says.

And he is of the opinion that flexibility should be offered more broadly and in both directions. That is, if the worker wants to work even fewer hours, for example 20 hours a week, he should be able to do this with the appropriate salary adjustment, and if he wants to work more, we set 50 hours a week, the same, with the remuneration after this Overtime.

We came across the law. However, the flexibility proposed by Muñoz conflicts directly with the Workers’ Statute, which stipulates that employees may not exceed an average of 40 hours of effective work per week when calculated annually. A rule that for José Luis Cendejas will continue to shape the reality of work in Spain as long as it continues to set a maximum of forty hours per week.

“I find it very difficult for the Telefónica example to spread. I find it very difficult for everyone to reduce their working day to four days. There are very different companies with very different needs and as long as the law sets the minimum now set in the Workers’ Statute and in the various collective agreements, they will continue to organize their work activities with this reference, ”he explains.

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Salaries don’t give you a margin. The Telefónica model is the safest for companies, but there is little leeway for workers who do not have a comfortable enough salary to be able to forego some of it. And this is another of the biggest pitfalls that experts and participants in the LinkedIn survey see with the extension of the four-day week: Salaries in Spain are so scarce in many industries that one cannot think of a 20% reduction .

The controversy will continue. Although experts differ on several points, they all agree that the debate about the four-day week will continue, especially since more and more companies will have the opportunity to reduce the working hours of their employees without reducing their productivity . And if more companies choose the Software del Sol model, it is likely to require more professionals than labor law and all parties to negotiate, including the government.

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