Spanish Government Pushes for Shorter Workday

February 12, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. work-life balance / ˈwɜrkˈlaɪf ˌbæl əns / (n.) – the state in which a person spends time for work and for personal life
Example: He doesn’t have work-life balance because his job is taking most of his time.

2. proponent / prəˈpoʊ nənt / (n.) – someone who supports something
Example: She is one of the proponents of the campaign.

3. typical / ˈtɪp ɪ kəl / (adj.) – normal
Example: My typical workday starts at 8:00 a.m.

4. midday / ˈmɪdˌdeɪ / (adj.) – relating to the middle part of the day
Example: They have midday meetings every day.

5. honor / ˈɒn ər / (n.) – respect given or shown in admiration
Example: The auditorium was named in honor of the school’s founder.  


Read the text below.
The national government of Spain seeks to shorten the country’s standard 11-hour workday to improve its citizens’ work-life balance.

The labor minister of Spain announced that the government is pushing to end workdays at 6:00 p.m. instead of the current 8:00 p.m. Proponents of the proposal said that a shorter workday can promote a better work-life balance for employees. The long workday affects their productivity and compromises their family time. In line with this, the government is seeking the support of big companies and trade unions to achieve its objective.

Currently, a typical workday in Spain starts at around 9:00 a.m. and ends at 8:00 p.m. or later. Employees get an afternoon break that usually lasts for two to three hours. Due to their late schedules, Spanish employees cannot eat dinner before 9:00 p.m., and some of them sleep after midnight.

According to a study, Spain’s unique work schedule started after the country’s Civil War in the 1930s. Many work until 3:00 and then do a second job later in the day. In between these jobs, people used their long afternoon breaks to go home for lunch and have a siesta. 

Siestas are the tradition of taking a nap after lunch. People in Spain have a siesta in order to avoid the midday heat and enjoy a long lunchtime with their families. Siestas are also believed to be good for health.

Siestas are an important part of the Spanish culture, and in fact, the first ever sleeping competition was held in 2010 in its honor. During the competition, the contestants had to sleep for 20 minutes while being monitored. The goal of the competition is to preserve siestas as a part of the Spanish culture. It also aims to encourage people to take a siesta because it is a healthy activity. The winner of the competition took home 1,000 euros.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Would you like to have a similar work schedule with two to three hours of break? Why or why not?
·         If you had a three-hour break, how would you spend it?

Discussion B

·         Do you agree that long work hours affect productivity? Why or why not?
·         In what ways can people stay concentrated despite working long hours? Enumerate.

February 12, 2017