Companies in Spain with less than 250 employees can apply for a pilot government scheme to adopt a four-day working week with full pay, it was announced on Thursday.

Firms have a month to apply for the initiative.

Small and medium-sized industrial businesses will be the main focus of the €9.6 million scheme, according to the government, as it detailed the participation requirements of the project, initially unveiled at the end of last year. 

Within the pilot, between 25% and 30% of staff will work at least 10% fewer hours on full pay, Reuters news agency reports. Employers will receive partial compensation for up to €200,000 per applicant as well as the consultancy costs of implementing new work methods.

The government can respond to applications up until November, and businesses are requested to continue the trial for a minimum of two years. After this time, the performance results will be reviewed.

In addition, Valencia is operating a trial of the four-day working week over a month. The city council is arranging for local holidays to take place on four consecutive Mondays for the 800,000-strong population of the city, the Reuters report adds.

The trial will analyse the effect on factors such as workers’ well-being and fuel emissions, and the results are due to be published by July.

Elsewhere, in the UK, staff at 61 businesses worked 34 hours across four days, on average, between June and December last year on full pay, in the largest global trial of the four-day week up to now. The majority of those who took part made the decision to retain the method, which proponents say is a breakthrough for improved work-life balance.

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