Telefónica Workers Reject 4-Day Work Week With 16% Pay Cut


Telefónica España workers have almost unanimously rejected the proposal to voluntarily opt for a four-day working week, which entailed a corresponding pay cut, although the company compensated with a 20% bonus. With just four days left before the deadline to join the plan, barely 1% of the workforce has signed up, according to EL PAÍS today, citing sources in the negotiations.

The main reason for this lack of interest on the part of employees seems to be that, in the context of the crisis and economic uncertainty, the company’s offer was not attractive because of the salary reduction which, in addition, also entails a cut in social security contributions.

With the so-called “Bonus Flexible Working Week”, employees work 32 hours a week, eight hours a day from Monday to Thursday, instead of the 37.5 hours they currently work on five days a week. The reduction in hours is accompanied by a proportional reduction in salary, but the company gives a bonus of 20% of this reduction, i.e. pays around one hour.

But giving up part of their salary (16% in total) is currently a luxury for employees with families, even if the four-day working week helps them to reconcile work and family life. In addition, older employees, who have already reduced or do not have family responsibilities and, therefore, were another of the groups most likely to subscribe to the plan, have not found it attractive either, because they have instruments with more advantages such as the Incentivised Leaving Plan (PSI), which 2,418 signed up to in the last call for applications last January, the same sources reported.

The measure, a pioneer in Spain in a large company, will initially be available on a voluntary basis to the approximately 18,000 employees of the Spanish subsidiary of the telecommunications multinational. Telefónica first launched a pilot test in October last year, in which around 150 workers signed up. Subsequently, in June this year, management and unions reached an agreement to extend this proposal to the entire workforce, and opened a period from 9 June to 15 July for workers who chose to take part in the plan to inform the company, as it is a voluntary procedure.

Even if there is a final push in the four days left to sign up, only a few dozen more workers than those who joined the pilot scheme have been accounted for.

About the Author

The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.