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Inditex workers to get Friday afternoons off to boost productivity
By thinkSPAIN Team Wed, Nov 6, 2019
INDITEX has opted to cut working hours for its office staff on a Friday and offer flexible start and finish times Monday to Thursday in a bid to see whether productivity and staff wellbeing increases.
The move by Spain's largest high-street clothing empire comes after Microsoft in Japan opted to give its staff three-day weekends and found productivity increased by over 40%.
But Inditex store staff will not be able to pack up work at 15.00 on a Friday, since these need to be open to the public all day from Monday to Saturday inclusive.
In a recent announcement by the management of the firm founded by Spain's richest man Amancio Ortega, 83, and his late ex-wife Rosalía Mera, office employees can now choose whether to work from 09.30 to 19.00 or 09.00 to 18.30.
It is not clear how long their lunch hours will be, but these are likely to be around an hour and a half to two hours, since the standard working day in Spain is eight hours net of lunchtime but including the morning 'breakfast break' which is typically about half an hour to 40 minutes.
On Fridays, they will work straight through from 09.00 to 15.00, albeit with the usual 'breakfast break'.
This means their 40-hour working week is, in practice, only reduced slightly, to around 37 or 38 hours, but the aim is to give them more free time to relax or spend on hobbies, domestic chores or with friends or family during what are statistically the least productive hours of the week, a Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Podemos breakaway political party Más País!, led by its outgoing key member Íñigo Errejón, wants to reduce the standard working week to 32 hours if it gains power, either by reducing hours per day or cutting the week to four days.
The majority of Spanish businesses, especially customer-facing ones such as offices and shops, still start between 08.00 and 10.00 in the morning and close between 20.00 and 21.00 at night with lunch breaks of between three and four-and-a-half hours, although the debate as to whether a more 'conventional' day with a shorter lunch break and a maximum 18.00 finish should be adopted has been on the table for some years, given the inconvenience to customers of shops being shut for a large part of the day and workers not seeing their families until around 21.30 at night.
Primary school hours have conventionally been from 09.00 to 17.00 with lunch from noon until 14.00, meaning children and parents pass like ships in the night, but several regions have been adopting more northern European hours for schools.
In the Comunidad Valenciana, the vast majority of primary schools now run from 09.00 to 14.00 with only a couple of short breaks, although free after-school clubs offering sports, arts, playtime, and remedial academic activities are normally in place until 18.00 with paid-for sessions until 19.00 or 20.00 so that parents who work in the afternoons do not have to find childcare when school finishes.
Most teachers and parents in school which have adopted these hours say they have noticed a rise in enthusiasm, productivity and academic performance in all pupils and a fall in absenteeism.
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