The European Union recorded 13.2 million unemployed people in February 2024. The full-time equivalent employment rate for women (42%) is lower than for men (57%).

The 4-day work week is a tool to combat economic inequality and improve the quality of life for workers, according to a new study launched by The Left today. Authored by Francisco José Trillo Párraga*, the research finds that by reducing the number of workdays, employees have more time to spend with their families, pursue personal interests, and engage in community activities.

The study provides a comprehensive analysis of the implications, benefits, and challenges associated with reducing the length of the working day. It also examines various dimensions of reduced working time, including its impact on health, gender equality, work-life balance, and productivity, while also considering regulatory frameworks and case studies from different EU countries.

With an extra day off, there is potential for a more equitable distribution of household responsibilities, enabling women, who traditionally bear the brunt of these tasks, to participate more fully in the workforce and other areas of public life.

Left MEP Maria Eugenia Rodriguez Palop (Podemos, Spain) commented:This study shows that we have every reason to stand up for a reduction of working time at full pay. That, despite the objections of some, working less and living more is not only feasible, but also a wise policy option that could enhance workers and women’s rights. We want bread, but we want roses too.”

A 4-day work week is also aligned with progressive environmental goals, contributing to broader efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainable living practices. Companies adopting remote work policies in conjunction with a 4-day week further amplify these benefits by reducing the need for large office spaces and the associated energy consumption.

Left MEP Leila Chaibi (La France Insoumise, France) says: “Everywhere this has been experienced, the benefits of the 4-day week are demonstrated: lower burn-out rates, lower absenteeism and resignations, higher productivity and well-being.”

The push for a 4-day work week is a broader vision for a more humane and just society. It envisions a future where economic progress does not come at the expense of personal well-being and where the benefits of productivity gains are equitably shared among all workers. As the movement gains momentum, it holds the promise of reshaping our relationship with work in a way that prioritises human dignity, environmental sustainability, and social justice.

In embracing the 4-day work week, we take a significant step towards a more balanced, fulfilling, and just society for all.

*Francisco José Trillo Párraga is a labour and Social Security Law Professor at the UCLM. Director of the European and Latin American Centre for Social Dialogue, Co-Director of the CCOO-UCLM Chair of Trade Union Confederation Studies

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