Portugal Launches Government-Funded Trial of Four-Day Workweek, with Support from Private Sector Businesses

Portugal has joined the ranks of countries experimenting with a four-day workweek, and this time, it’s receiving government support. In a new pilot program facilitated by 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit organization known for conducting influential four-day workweek experiments worldwide, 39 private-sector businesses in Portugal have agreed to participate over the next six months.

Under the program, employers will reduce their employees’ working hours without reducing their pay, following the 100-80-100 model. This means that workers will receive 100% of their regular pay for working 80% of the time while still maintaining 100% of their usual output.

A report from researchers at the University of London and the University of Reading overseeing the program highlights that 72% of the Portuguese labor force currently works more than 40 hours per week. This places Portugal as the third OECD country with the longest average workweek, following the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Although the majority of businesses participating in the trial come from the professional, scientific, and technical fields, the program’s cohort also includes a diverse range of sectors such as nurseries, care homes, stem cell banks, research and development centers, and manufacturing, retail, and nonprofit organizations.

The objectives of the program include assessing whether a shortened workweek can alleviate employee stress and burnout, leading to improved worker retention. Researchers also aim to analyze the economic, social, and environmental implications of implementing a four-day business week in Portugal.

4 Day Week Global has gained significant traction during the pandemic by conducting high-profile experiments worldwide. Previous trials in the United States and the United Kingdom yielded positive results, with workers reporting higher productivity levels and reduced burnout. Participating businesses also observed an 8% increase in revenue during the trial period, compared to the previous year’s figures.

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While no country has fully implemented a four-day workweek, various trials have taken place in South Africa, Belgium, Iceland, Japan, and other locations. Portugal’s growing popularity among American millennials as a relocation destination due to its affordability and pleasant climate has further contributed to its appeal. The number of Americans living in Portugal reached its highest level in over a decade, with approximately 7,000 Americans residing in the country by the end of 2021, double the number from three years prior.

Furthermore, Portugal introduced a digital nomad visa last year, making it even more accessible for workers from countries outside the European Union or European Economic Area to pursue a new life abroad.

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