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Valencian Pilot Scheme Shows 4-Day Work Week Improved Workers Health Health News

Back in May, The Spanish government announced a pilot scheme to reduce the working week from five days to four, with full pay for small and medium-sized industrial companies with fewer than 250 workers.

The scheme, worth 9.6 million euros (10.6 million USD), aimed to see approximately 25 to 30 percent of employees working at least 10 percent fewer hours whilst being in receipt of their full salary.

41 applications from industrial SMEs, from 13 autonomous communities applied to the scheme, and the total value of eligible expenses requested by the 41 projects totaled 2,831,017.60 euros, with 503 workers assigned to the pilot projects.

The Results

Data released on Tuesday, October 19, from a pilot program that took place between April 10 and May 7, 2023, and affected 360,000 workers, in the Spanish coastal city of Valencia, showed that a four-day workweek can significantly improve the health and well-being of its workforce.

Impact on Lifestyle

The project not only reduced stress levels, but also had a positive impact on various aspects of life, including air quality and family dynamics.

With more than 800,000 inhabitants, Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city embarked on this bold experiment by strategically scheduling local holidays to fall on four consecutive Mondays. The findings were nothing short of remarkable.

An independent commission comprising health and social science experts closely assessed the program, finding that many of those that participated, made the most of the long weekends by developing healthier habits, such as taking up a sport, eating homemade food and resting.

The benefits of the four-day workweek extended beyond individual health and the environment, and although a specific percentage wasn’t given, the commission said that a significant portion of the participants indicated an increased inclination toward engaging in activities such as watching films, reading, studying, and pursuing creative hobbies such as music, painting or photography.

One of the most notable outcomes of the pilot program was the improvement in workers' self-perceived health status. The participants reported lower stress levels and better feelings regarding happiness, mood, tiredness, and personal satisfaction. These results suggest that a shorter workweek can have a profound impact on the mental and emotional well-being of employees. It also highlights the potential for a shorter workweek to foster personal growth and creativity.

Environmental Impact

Furthermore, the reduction in the use of motor vehicles on the four Mondays during the program led to a noticeable improvement in air quality. The decrease in nitrogen dioxide emissions, as recorded by the city's daily measurements, indicates that a four-day workweek can contribute to lowering fuel emissions and thus benefit the environment.

Challenges and Considerations

However, it is essential to note that not all habits improved during the experiment. The report revealed that smokers and drinkers increased their overall use of tobacco and alcohol. While this aspect of the findings is concerning, it is essential to consider that the overall positive impact on health and well-being might outweigh these negative aspects for many participants.

One of the most heartening outcomes of the program was the positive effect on children. The improved work-life balance enjoyed by their parents resulted in happier and more engaged family dynamics. This suggests that a four-day workweek can not only enhance the well-being of employees but also benefit the family unit.

While the pilot program delivered numerous benefits, it also presented some challenges.

While the hospitality and tourism sectors experienced an increase in business during extended weekends, retailers reported a decrease in sales. Additionally, emergency medical services faced potential strain as more healthcare workers took time off. These challenges highlight the need for careful planning and coordination when transitioning to a shorter workweek.

Political and Social Context

The Valencian pilot program was designed by the left-wing Compromis coalition, a group of progressive, green, and regionalist parties that governed the city at the time. It showcased the potential for innovative policies that prioritise both the well-being of workers and environmental sustainability.


In conclusion, the Valencian pilot program has demonstrated that a four-day workweek can have a transformative impact on workers' health, air quality, and family dynamics. While there are challenges to overcome, the findings provide compelling evidence in favour of considering shorter workweeks as a viable option for improving the quality of life for employees and the environment. As similar experiments continue worldwide, the future of work may look considerably different, with more focus on well-being and sustainable practices.

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