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Government presents project of four working days a week

GOVERNMENT PRESENTS PROJECT OF FOUR WORKING DAYS A WEEKThe Government will today present the pilot project of the four-day working week to the Concertação Social (Economic & Social Council). The experiment will start in June 2023 in private sector companies and will later be extended to public administration.

According to the Government document, the pilot experience in 2023 will be open to all companies in the private sector and will last for six months, being voluntary and reversible and without financial compensation, providing the State with technical and administrative support to aid the transition.

“Later, and upon satisfactory evolution of the pilot, this experience should, in a second phase, be extended to the public sector”, says the executive, adding that this extension to the public administration “requires adaptation of impact assessment instruments and will be subject to different legal and budgetary constraints”.

According to the Government, only in a third phase is there “the intention to create favuorable conditions to test a more ambitious model that involves a quasi-experimental design, in which a group of companies adopt the change and another group will serve as control”.

According to the executive, the experience “cannot involve a salary cut and must imply a reduction in weekly hours”.

Since the State does not offer any financial compensation, an exact number of hours per week will not be stipulated, which “can be 32 hours, 34 hours, 36 hours, defined by agreement between management and workers”, but the experience has to “involve the vast majority of workers” of the company, “except for large companies, where it can be tested in only a few establishments or departments”.

The pilot project schedule foresees that in the coming months, until January 2023, expression of interest by companies and clarification sessions will take place to “explain to them how the study will proceed”, with the selection of participants scheduled for February of the next year.

Between March and May, the pilot experience will be prepared, which will then start in June and last until November. During the month of December 2023, “a period of reflection” will take place, during which “management will reflect on the experience and determine whether they will maintain the new organization, return to the five-day week, or adopt a hybrid model”.

According to the Government, the evaluation of the pilot project “will focus on the effects of the four-day week on workers and companies”.

On the workers side, “the effects on well-being, quality of life, mental health and physical health will be measured, as well as their level of commitment to the company, satisfaction with work and intention to remain in the organization”, with “the use of workers' time on rest days, to understand where and how non-worked time is used” also being looked at.

On the companies side, “the generic focus will be on productivity, competitiveness, intermediate costs and profits”, evaluating “the effects on short and long-term absenteeism rates, on recruitment capacity, on the organization of internal processes, in financial and non-financial performance indicators (for example, complaints from clients/users), in the incidence of work accidents and in the consumption of intermediate goods, whether raw materials or energy costs”.

The pilot experience of the four-day week will be coordinated by Pedro Gomes, author of the book “Friday is the New Saturday”, with Rita Fontinha, associate professor of 'Strategic Human Resource Management' at the Henley Business School of the University of Reading.


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