Thirty nine private-sector Portuguese organisations have begun a government-funded pilot of a four-day working week as part of a commitment to reduce weekly hours while maintaining full pay.
The aim of the pilot is to measure the impact of reduced working time on employees’ physical and mental health and the economic and functional effect on organisations, as well as reducing levels of stress and burnout for workers and improving staff retention.
Recruitment was open to all Portuguese private sector employers, which can reverse the measure at any point during the pilot. The government will provide technical services in partnership with 4 Day Week Global to support the transition.
Employers participaing in the trial include a nursery, a care home, a stem cells bank, a research and development centre, and firms from the manufacturing, retail, professional, scientific, technical and not-for-profit sectors.
The project is being co-ordinated by Dr Pedro Gomes, associate professor in economics at Birkbeck, University of London, and Dr Rita Fontinha, associate professor of strategic human resources at Henley Business School. They will track the experiences of organisations to determine any economic, societal, and environmental implications.
Ana Mendes Godinho, the Portuguese minister of labour, solidarity and social security, said: “The four-day work week pilot assumes work-life balance as critical to attract workers and to improve productivity and innovation. We are pleased with the positive response to this experiment, and it is certain that it will not result in a reduction in compensation.
“This project will be closely monitored and evaluated. This is just the beginning of one of the many changes we are implementing in the labour market of a country that is experiencing historically high levels of employment and is eager to attract and retain talent. The future belongs to those that can attract the best workers with strong skills and a higher level of happiness, in a globally competitive market where talent and people are the best resources.”