Lonely Planet Writer

Spaniards facing new wake up call over future of the afternoon siesta

Is nothing sacred anymore? The Spanish age-old tradition of afternoon siesta could soon be a thing of the past as the country’s prime minister puts forward proposals to bring working day hours into line with other European nations.

Spaniards may soon be asked to decide if they want to shorter their working day by ending the siesta tradition in the early afternoon
Spaniards may soon be asked to decide if they want to shorter their working day by ending the siesta tradition in the early afternoon Image by Don Johnson 395 / CC BY 2.0

The leader of Spain’s caretaker centre-right government, Mariano Rajoy, has initiated legislation which could spell the end of the three-hour lunch break.

New phone app aims to bring back the disappearing tradition of the Siesta. Image by Kasia / CC BY 2.0
The inclusion of the siesta into modern-day life means most working days begin at 9am and finish at 8pm Image by Kasia / CC BY 2.0 Image by Kasia / CC BY 2.0

The clawback from the people’s point of view is that his proposals, if enacted, would see workers in Spain finished at 6pm or two hours earlier than they do now.

The Evening Standard in London outlined Mr Rajoy’s plans for which he wants cross-party support as well as the backing of trade unions and business leaders alike if they are to become law. Exemptions in the legislation would accommodate firms who operated shift rotas, he said.

At present, normal working hours in the country’s offices are from 9am to 8pm with either a two or sometimes three hour break at lunchtime to facilitate the renowned siesta.

This has led to complaints from some personnel that their working day is too dragged out with an increasing number appearing to favour the idea of shorter breaks during working hours like the the rest of Western Europe.

There is the belief that Mr Rajoy’s current announcement is designed to help him win more votes in the country’s next election in June. Previously the Prime Minister has floated the idea of Spain’s entering the same time zone as both Portugal and Britain.