Telefónica will test the 4-day work week after reaching an agreement with unions

MADRID, Jun 22 (Reuters) – Telefónica will offer part of its workforce the possibility of participating in a pilot program of four working days a week, which will begin in October and will last three months, as part of broader negotiations with the unions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The agreement, signed on Tuesday with Spanish unions and valid until the end of 2022, includes this three-month trial that would allow staff to work four days a week voluntarily and depending on their position, in exchange for a salary reduction of 15 %.

“The agreement involves advancing in a flexible work model that has proven feasible during the pandemic, since work quality and productivity have been maintained,” said Emilio Gayo, president of Telefónica Spain, in a statement. “This agreement reflects our firm and determined commitment to new ways of working and to trust in responsible and committed professionals.”

Telefónica says that it is the first Spanish company to incorporate the 32-hour work week into its business model.

“We still don’t know how many employees will be interested in the test,” UGT union representative Diego Gallart told Reuters. “But an important part of the workforce is interested in increasing the distance days and maintaining them in the long term.”

The Spanish telecommunications operator will also grant employees two days of teleworking per week, which they can accumulate and use flexibly if their supervisor agrees, and will not limit the place from which they must telework.

“We will try to increase (the number of telecommuting days) if it is possible to do so without affecting the operations of the company,” Gallart added. “In the last year, people have become fond of teleworking: they are no longer afraid of it.”

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Rival operators Orange and Vodafone had reached similar agreements with unions in recent months to grant staff weekly remote work days – two in the case of Orange and three in the case of Vodafone – with varying degrees of flexibility.

(Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette; Editing by Bernadette Baum; Translated by Michael Susin)

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