Spanish Siesta Under Threat

Is this the end of the Siesta?
Is this the end of the Siesta?

I’m sure you’re aware of the Spanish Siesta; the two hours in the afternoon, usually 2pm – 4pm, where shops close and everyone goes for a nap.

Spain is one of the few remaining countries that does this and some people suggest it affects business by effectively “closing” the country for two hours every day.

Acting Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has plans to scrap it and reduce the length of the working day bringing it in line with the rest of Europe.

Mr Rajoy said he intended to “find a consensus to make sure the working day ends at 6pm.”

The siesta isn’t universally observed these days but the working day is still split with a two, or even three, hour lunch break, meaning the working day doesn’t finish for most people until 7pm.

The siesta was originally introduced to allow farmers and construction workers to avoid working during the hottest part of the day. It is also said that despite the longer working day, the siesta actually diminishes productivity for Spanish workers.

Flexible Hours

In 2013, a Spanish parliamentary commission said “We need more flexible working hours, to cut our lunch breaks, to streamline business meetings by setting time limits for them, and to practise and demand punctuality.”

The report also suggested that dropping the daily siesta would raise the quality and life, raise low birth rates and reduce marriage breakdowns.

The acting PM is also considering a return to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for the country which currently operates an hour ahead of London. The time zone shift was the decision of dictator General Franco in 1942 as a way of showing support for Hitler’s Nazi regime by bringing Spain in line with German time.