The government-funded pilot of the four-day work week starts this week in Portugal.
It includes 39 private-sector organisations, 27 starting a 4-day week on the 5th of 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.
Participants have committed to reducing weekly hours while maintaining full pay. 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.
The project is being coordinated Dr. Rita Fontinha, Associate Professor of Strategic Human Resources at Henley Business School and co-author with Prof. James T. Walker, of the Henley White Paper on the Four-Day Week, and Dr. Pedro Gomes, Associate Professor in Economics at Birkbeck, University of London and author of the book Friday is the New Saturday. They will track the experience of companies during the trial to determine the economic, societal, and environmental implications of the 4-day week.
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 organise 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.”
CEO of 4 Day Week Global, Dr Dale Whelehan commented:
“We are delighted to be working with the Portuguese government on this pilot, commend them for their leadership, and encourage other jurisdictions to act quickly. Our research clearly demonstrates the four-day week is better for business, workers and the environment, and we’re looking forward to this cohort experiencing the benefits of reduced work time first-hand.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.