EU Shifting To Four-Day Workweek

New year, new deal—at least for production workers at Italian luxury sports car maker Lamborghini, who just secured a four-day workweek.

The agreement between the automotive firm and the unions is the first of its kind in Europe. It includes a 50% increase in bonuses, a hike in annual wages and a one-off bonus of €1,000 (about $1,080). The deal will also add 500 new jobs and additional benefits.

Lamborghini, owned by Germany’s Volkswagen through its subsidiary Audi, is poised to drive change in the European car industry, with other automakers expected to follow suit.

In the US, some manufacturing plants have had a shorter workweek for years. The truncated work week is credited with providing a better work/life balance, thus increasing productivity, job retention and employee overall health while limiting sick days.

However, longer workdays weigh on output quality and potentially pave the way to burnout and exhaustion. Employees receive 100% pay if they achieve 100% of their productivity targets.

“We have had this arrangement for about two decades, and it’s well-received,” says Jason Vance, operations project manager at Malibu Boats. “It improves production and scheduling flexibility, and it’s a great tool to recruit new people. Once tried, nobody wants to go back to a five-day week. But working in a plant is taxing, so we give workers incentives and longer breaks. They recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of the four-day rota.” 

The trend is worldwide as more companies test an abbreviated workweek. In Europe, countries like the UK, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and Iceland have implemented the model. Other countries exploring the change include Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

Several major global companies have already (partially) tested the waters with a shortened workweek: Amazon, Microsoft, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba and Telefonica. The UK Civil Service is also on board.

A few large firms are leading the change in Italy, where Lamborghini is based. Defense conglomerate Leonardo introduced the novelty last year, as did eyewear luxury giant Essilor-Luxottica and world-famous coffee brand Lavazza. Italy’s largest bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, started the trial in January 2023. Over 50% of its workforce embraced the initiative.