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Dominican Republic launches initiative to implement 36-hour workweek

15 February, 2024 | Ricardo Changala

On February 1, 2024, the Dominican Republic (DR) formally began the Voluntary Pilot Plan for Reduced Workweek, aiming to reduce the workweek from 44 to 36 hours, making the DR the first country in Latin America to advance with the reduction of the workweek and to test the four-day workweek for its workers, as announced by government authorities.

The Pilot Plan, initially, has a total duration of six months. During this period, companies that voluntarily join will be able to evaluate the impact of the reduced workweek.

Among the companies that have announced their participation are Claro, IMCA, EGE Haina, National Health Insurance, and the Unique Beneficiaries System, although it is expected that many others will join the initiative.

During the first three months, workers will receive 100% of their salary along with a 20% reduction in their workweek. The goal is to assess if workers achieve the same productivity during the reduced workweek.

During the remaining three months, the results obtained will be evaluated, a task that will be carried out by the Catholic University Mother and Teacher (PUCMM), which will apply various indicators, including worker health and well-being, work-life balance, absenteeism, and contribution to the environment.

At the public launch event of the Pilot Plan, Luis Miguel de Camps, DR Minister of Labor, referred to several countries where similar models have been implemented, such as Brazil, Australia, and the United Kingdom, highlighting that in the latter, work-related stress has been reduced by around 71%, while companies have reported higher profits, increased hiring, and less absenteeism, among other benefits.

According to multiple consulted sources, there are claims in the United Kingdom that numerous companies involved in a temporary trial of a four-day workweek are now contemplating its permanent adoption, citing the experiment as “tremendously successful.”

More than sixty companies and around 3300 workers participated in the six-month pilot program launched on June 6, 2022, to study the impact of reducing the workweek on business productivity and the well-being of workers, as well as its impact on the environment and gender equality.

The process was led by researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Boston College, as well as the private entity 4 Day Week Global, 4 Day Week UK Campaign, and the British think tank Autonomy.

It is relevant to note that 92% of the participating companies have decided to maintain the four-day workweek after the trial period, describing the pilot project as a “great advancement,” applying the “100:80:100 model,” meaning 100% of the salary for 80% of the time, in exchange for the commitment to maintain at least 100% productivity.

Several other Commonwealth countries such as Scotland, Wales, Australia, Ireland, or New Zealand, have either initiated similar programs or are in the process of doing so.

In previous years, pilot experiences have also been implemented in other countries, such as Iceland, Sweden, or Finland, although they have not yet taken more formal steps towards widespread adoption of the weekly work reduction.

The United Arab Emirates became the first country to establish a four-and-a-half-day workweek in all its government entities as well as in the country’s central bank.

It is interesting to note that among the promoters of the reduction of the workweek are some business organizations that have created the so-called 4 days a Week foundation, which, based on data and specific experiences in New Zealand and other places, argue that the shorter workweek not only improves the quality of life of workers, including gender inequality but also productivity at work.

In Europe, the trend towards reducing the workweek without affecting productivity has had some historical consistency.

For example, in Germany, in 1980, an employee worked an average of 2,186 hours per year, but by 2020, the average did not exceed 1,600 hours. In previous years, in France, it had been reduced to 35 hours without causing serious problems for companies and their ability to maintain salaries.

In Spain, one of the agreements that allowed the formation of its current government was precisely the promotion of the progressive reduction of working hours, from the limit of 40 hours per week to 35 by the year 2026, with an initial reduction to 37.5 hours in 2025. It is estimated that around 12 million workers will benefit from this reduction without a decrease in their salary income.


It should be taken into account that one thing is the general normative framework, and another different thing is the concrete reality.

On the one hand, in some countries, such as Spain or the Nordic countries, there are multiple sectoral agreements or by companies that reduce the number of working hours.

On the other hand, what must be prioritized is the actual working hours, which do not necessarily coincide with what is established by legislation.

According to Eurostat data, the working hours in different European countries range from 31 hours per week in the Netherlands to 42 hours per week worked in Serbia.

In Latin America, the average weekly working time is higher than in Europe.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with data published in 2023 on countries that integrate this entity, Colombia has the maximum with 47.5 hours per week, Mexico 45, Costa Rica 44.5, and Chile 42.6.

However, in these countries, changes in labor relations are debated and approved, including the reduction of the workweek although with variations in their scope.

In Colombia, Law 2101 of 2023 proposes a gradual decrease in the weekly working time with the aim of establishing a 42-hour workweek by 2026, passing through 44 hours in 2025.

The Chilean Congress approved in April 2023 to gradually reduce the weekly workweek from 45 to 40 hours. After one year of its implementation, the workweek will be reduced to 44 hours per week; after three years, the limit will be 42 hours, and after five years, it will reach 40 hours. The law provides for the possibility of working four days and resting three (unlike current legislation, which requires a minimum of five working days).

In Mexico, there are several initiatives, including some constitutional amendments, to reduce the weekly working time, but they have not yet been approved.

In the case of Costa Rica, the government has promoted a modification that goes in a different direction from other countries as it proposes to create a category of “extended exceptional workdays,” of 12 hours per day with the counterpart of more days off. The debate has been going on for a long time, including questioning its constitutionality.

Improving working conditions, including working time, has been at the center of social demands and therefore, at the birth of labor rights.

It has been documented that the first to achieve a reduction in the workweek were construction workers in Australia, in 1856.

Similar struggles took place worldwide, such as those in Chicago with a sad outcome, which over time led to the commemoration of May 1 as International Workers’ Day.

Therefore, the objective of reducing the working hours has been present since the creation of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1919.

ILO Recommendation No. 116, issued in 1962, underscores the importance for each member state to develop and implement a national policy aimed at fostering the gradual reduction of standard working hours.

This recommendation emphasizes various critical factors to consider in this pursuit, including national circumstances, technological advancements, and prioritization of roles involving significant physical or mental exertion.

Contrary to previous eras, contemporary advancements in technology and work methodologies have facilitated unprecedented boosts in labor productivity.

This has created an opportune environment for reducing working hours without compromising income or business profitability. Nevertheless, despite these advancements, many countries worldwide persist in maintaining extensive working schedules that often exceed both domestic and international regulatory thresholds.

Most labor reforms enacted in recent years have leaned towards neoliberal principles, favoring deregulation or flexibility, thereby eroding established labor protections.

These reforms often introduce new work modalities or resurrect outdated practices, impacting not only rest periods but also the overall well-being of workers. Examples include the rise of telecommuting, digital technologies, and other similar tools.

It’s important to recognize that technological advancements alone do not guarantee an improvement in people’s quality of life, such as through reduced working hours. Rather, achieving such goals necessitates the cultivation of social, political, and cultural agreements.

Vigilance regarding the outcomes of these reforms is essential.

We must analyze their effects, draw insights, and implement further measures to actualize the principles laid out by the ILO over a century ago: advocating for social justice, upholding human and labor rights, and fostering enduring global peace.