June 8. 2023. 10:59

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Employment commissioner favours EU-wide 4-day work

“I think it is something that is progressively moving forward […] because the new generations that have a certain vision about the balance between work and personal life”, said Schmit. “I am open to that”, he added.

At a time when Portugal is also moving forward with a pilot project on this issue, the commissioner points out that “there is no common position” in the EU on the shortened work week.

“I think it is something that will happen based on agreements between social partners”, he points out.

Giving the example of Germany, where the largest trade union is asking for progress in the implementation of the four-day week and where some companies already present this solution to recruit workers, namely in the transport sector, Schmit adds that “the issue of reducing working time may be a way to attract” employees.

“As there are difficulties for certain sectors to attract people, perhaps they also have to become more attractive,” he said, stressing that “this is something that comes under negotiation between the social partners”.

For the EU, “the biggest problem is not so much unemployment” but rather labour shortages. Indeed, “many sectors are desperately looking for employees and cannot find them because people do not want to work there or do not have the right skills”, he added.

“In the labour market, we still have big skills mismatches”, a situation that the EU has to respond to, the commissioner added.

In Portugal, under the Decent Work Agenda, a pilot project is planned to test the four-day week voluntarily and without loss of income.

In the balance of the first phase of this pilot project, disclosed in March, it was announced that the programme’s second phase to implement the four-day week has 46 companies from a total of 99 interested.

Among the main reasons for companies not advancing to the preparation phase were the global economic outlook, the need for financial investment, the complexity of its implementation, while others registered that “it is not the best solution to the problems” and that the benefits of the measure “will not be great” in the corporate context.

Most of the 46 that continued in the government-backed project have up to 10 workers, while five employ more than 1,000 people.

The main areas represented in the project’s second phase are consulting, scientific, technical and similar activities, with almost 40%, followed by education and information and communication activities – with about 15% each.

(Ana Matos Neves; edited by Cristina Cardoso | Lusa.pt)

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