PSOE and Sumar agreed to reduce the ordinary working day from the current 40 hours per week to 37.5. According to the estimates of the Ministry of Labor, if the Government gets the support of the majority of the Congress and the measure continues, it will benefit 12 million salaried people in the private sector. That is, 83.3% of the total (the rest, 16.7%, have working days of 37.5 hours per week or less).
To determine whether the measure affects you, the factor to consider is not how many hours you currently work per week, but how many hours are specified in your collective agreement. And there are already some that include working days of 37.5 hours or less: these agreements with shorter working days, for example, are common in the financial sector, where 89% of employees working less than 37.5 hours, or in education, with 61 %. Contrast their situation in the hospitality industry or agriculture, where only 1% of workers work less than 37.5 hours.
The key statistic for analyzing agreed working hours is the number of collective agreements published by the Ministry of Labor. It does not provide a complete picture of all workers, but those whose conditions are governed by agreements that have a known economic impact and are registered at the time of reference. But this is an important sample: for example, the data in September 2023 shows the conditions of 9.5 million workers, when the total number of employees is 17.8 million. An important bias must be taken into account: these agreements are usually under the umbrella of collective bargaining, so it is normal that their conditions are better than other employees. It is generally recognized by specialists that this statistic is affected by some weaknesses.
With these precautions, the registry of the Ministry of Labor determines that 58.3% of employees are managed by working days of more than 38.5 hours. All of them, therefore, will benefit from the measure agreed by the PSOE and Sumar, such as a share of the 29.8% whose agreed working hours are set at 37.5 to 38.5 hours. Only 11.9% of working days are less than 37.5 hours, according to this statistic. In total, according to Labor, 83.3% of salaried employees (12 million people) will benefit from a reduction in working hours up to 37.5 hours per week.
Achieving shorter hours than those legally set by the Workers’ Statute is a success for unions in collective bargaining. The stronger the union, the more likely that will happen. And, for this reason, company agreements—those agreed between the committees and the company’s management— tend to include shorter agreed days than general statistical agreements, which include many sectoral agreements. at the provincial, regional or state level where workers have less strength. . Smaller companies often take these higher level agreements as a reference. In the scenario of company agreements, 45% of workers are governed by working hours of less than 37.5 hours, compared to 11.9% for standard agreements.
Among the large Spanish employers (the greater the number of employees and the more added value, the more likely the committee will be stronger) there are many examples of working hours under 40 hours per week. The best known case is that of the public sector: three million workers who, as a general rule, enjoy the agreed day of 37.5 hours. The specific public service union, CSIF, is already demanding that the working day be reduced to 35 hours for these employees.
The working day is also under 40 hours per week at Banco Santander: the agreement specifies 38.5 hours for most of the year, from mid-September to mid-June, and 35.5 in summer. It is also lower than CaixaBank, where it is placed at 37.5 hours, as well as Telefónica. In Iberdrola it is set at 38 hours per week, and in Indra, at 39 hours in winter and 36 in summer. The largest private Spanish employer, Mercadona—with nearly 100,000 workers nationwide—sets the working day at 40 hours.
In the same way that an increase in the minimum wage is likely to increase the residual wage, it appears that the reduction of working hours in the Workers’ Statute – if it happens – will serve to reduce the working day of companies that already have 37.5 hours. They are companies that now recognize more rights for their employees than the general legislation, an argument that can be used by the committees to deepen that policy.
Statistics from the Ministry of Labor also distinguish between agreed working hours by sector. In 2022, the activity with the highest proportion of workers with a working day below the usual amount is public administration and Defense, where almost all employees have a working day of 37.5 hours or less . Financial activities followed, with 88.8% of 37.5 hours or less, ahead of education (61.4%) and information and communication (59.1%). It turns out that these sectors, apart from education, also enjoy above-average wages. In other words, more working hours does not mean more pay, but, usually, the opposite. At the other end of the scale are sectors with longer agreed hours and lower than average wages, such as commerce or hospitality.
If you have doubts about what your agreed day is, you can consult it in your contract, which should specify the reference agreement. If it does not appear, the company must explain the agreed day.
The agreed working day is one thing and the work that any employee actually works is another, conditioned by overtime, absenteeism, part-time work, unpaid time and many other variables. The average effective working day for all working people is currently 37.7 hours, a record that has been slowly falling since the pandemic and has rebounded in recent years. For women (who suffer more bias), the average working day is 35.2 hours, compared to 39.9 hours for men.
There are also notable differences between the self-employed and employees: the former work 44.3 hours a week on average, more than a normal working day, compared to 36.6 for employees. The difference is smaller when comparing employees from the public sector (36.4) and the private sector (36.7).