The 4 day working week trail 

UK firms begin world’s biggest four-day week trial – with no loss of pay.

4 day work week

4 day working week tick HR Blog

On Monday 6th June 2022 a new trial started for thousands of UK workers. During the trial workers from more than 70 businesses will reduce their hours down to 80 per cent without receiving any cut in pay.

It’s been talked about for a few years with Labour planning to introduce it within a decade had Jeremy Corbyn ever led his party to victory in the 2019 election.

The UK trial will run alongside similar pilot schemes rolled out across Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and is being coordinated by a coalition of organisations including 4 Day Week Global.

4 Day Week Campaign Limited are a not – for – profit organisation who are currently campaigning across the UK for a four-day, 32 hour working week with no loss of pay for workers. They say that the standard 9-5, 5 day working week is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

Trials of a four-day week in Iceland were an “overwhelming success” and led to many workers moving to shorter hours, researchers have said. The trials, in which workers were paid the same amount for shorter hours, took place between 2015 and 2019. Results showed that productivity remained the same or was even improved in most workplaces.

The trials led unions to renegotiate working patterns, and now 86% of Iceland’s workforce have either moved to shorter hours for the same pay or will gain the right to in the near future.

Microsoft Japan trialled a four-day working week and productivity went up 40 per cent, New Zealand-based Perpetual Garden had an increase of 20 per cent and UK-based MRL Recruitment said their trial increased productivity by 25 per cent.

What are the benefits of a 4-day week? 

Research from Henley Business School indicates that staff at businesses with a four-day week are 78 per cent happier and 62 per cent took fewer sick days. It also decreases stress levels. Staff at Perpetual Guardian reported a 7 per cent decrease in stress after moving to a four-day week.

Possible pros.

  • Happier employees
  • Reduced running costs for businesses
  • Reduced carbon footprint and commuting costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Fewer health issues
  • Better recruitment and retention
  • A better work life balance
  • Reduction in stress

Possible Cons.

  • Customer and client satisfaction, potentially leading them to go to a competitor
  • Doesn’t fit every model or industry. You will need the right company culture and tech for it to work
  • It could be non-cost effective for your business.
  • Childcare challenges
  • Impact on teams

A four-day work week isn’t going to be right for every business. Some workers prefer a standard five-day work week. Smaller companies may not be able to operate with fewer people at work on a given day. Some industries need to be fully staffed at all times, for example the healthcare industry.

The pandemic has brought about a culture change in the way many of us think about work and our mental health, with many UK employees changing careers in 2022. This has been labelled as ‘The Great Resignation’ with one of these reasons being able to stay working remotely.

The results from the study taking place this summer in the UK will ultimately impact whether more organisations are willing to adopt this new 4 day week approach.

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