The government-funded pilot of the four-day work week starts this week in Portugal. It includes 39 private-sector organisations, 27 starting a four-day week on the 5 June and 12 which have initiated it earlier. The aim of this project is to measure the impact of reduced work time on the physical and mental health of workers, as well as the economic and functional impact on organisations.
Dr. Rita Fontinha is co-coordinating the project with Dr. Pedro Gomes, Associate Professor in Economics at Birkbeck. They will track the experience of companies during the trial to determine the economic, societal, and environmental implications of the four-day week.
Participants have committed to reducing weekly hours while maintaining full pay for employees. Companies volunteered for the program without financial compensation and can reverse the measure at any moment, should they choose. Recruitment was open to all private sector firms in Portugal and the government is providing technical services, in partnership with 4 Day Week Global, to support the transition.
The participating firms come from a wide range of sectors. While most companies are engaged in professional, scientific and technical activities, the trial will include a nursery, a care home, a stem cells bank, a research and development centre, and firms from manufacturing, retail, and not-for-profit sectors. Their main motivators for participating were to reduce levels of stress and burnout for workers, and improve staff retention.
Project coordinators, Dr Rita Fontinha and Dr Pedro Gomes said:
“In the last 30 years, so much in society has changed: the technology we use, the speed in which we communicate, the types of jobs that we do, the length of our lives, or the role of women in society. But we still organize work in the exact same way.
We believe that the four-day week is a more efficient and sustainable way of organising work in the 21st century, and one that brings mutual benefits for workers, businesses and the economy. This is the philosophy behind this project. With the support of 4 Day Week Global, we’ll work together with companies and their workers, to help them experiment the four-day week, and evaluate its effects in the context of the Portuguese economy.”