Physical exercise: a contractual obligation?


There are numerous studies linking the regular practice of physical exercise to greater productivity in the workplace. Exercise improves health in general, so logically it enables our bodies to be in a better condition to perform our duties at work. That is the conclusion reached by many studies, one of which is called “The effect of physical exercise on work productivity and wellbeing,” published by the Universidad de las Islas Baleares and the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.

Regular exercise prevents problems such as a sedentary lifestyle and work-related stress, increases productivity, reduces absenteeism and improves the mood of employees, so the benefits of facilitating physical activity in the workplace are undeniable.

Due to that, more and more companies are facilitating or promoting the practice of sports for their employees in different ways. For example, some companies subsidize gym membership, others provide an exercise area on their premises or organize group yoga or pilates classes, and some even have football or basketball teams. Another option is to provide dressing rooms at the office so employees can exercise during their work breaks, and many take advantage of their lunchtime to go out for a run.

In Sweden, some companies have gone a step further and include physical exercise as an obligation established in the employment contract. The employees of the companies Kalmar Vatten and Björn Borg are obligated to spend an hour per week training at a sports center near their offices. These companies decided to establish that requirement because they consider that the hour spent training is essential for increasing productivity and profitability, and also, as an added benefit, for integrating employees in the company culture. There is no question that there can be enormous benefits of combining physical exercise and work, but it is more questionable whether companies in Spain can legally require their employees to do sports. Therefore, for now, the best option is to foment employees’ awareness of health, which will undoubtedly benefit employees and companies.

Julio Alemán

Garrigues Labor and Employment Law Department