EMPLOYMENT LAW

Are we getting closer to a 4-day working week in the UK?

June 2022 saw the start of a six month pilot study in the UK for companies wanting to try out the concept of a 4-day working week.

The UK trial is being led by 4 Day Week Global, a not-for-profit organisation who have already run trials in the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Apparently, 85% of adults in the US approve of moving to a 4-day working week.

Have many UK employers signed up to be part of the pilot?

More than 70 UK employers have signed up and are part of the pilot, which runs to November 2022. That is more than 3,300 employees.

Participating employers come from a wide range of sectors, and include marketing and design agencies, a bank, a property management business, a brewer and even a fish and chip shop.

How does a 4-day working week work?

The typical model involves reducing the working week to 32 hours worked over 4 days, so 8 hours per day. The key is that there should be no corresponding reduction in pay. However, many more employers already allow what is known as “compressed hours”, where a member of staff works full-time hours (35, 37.5 or 40 for example) over a 4 day period, rather than 5 days.

What does the pilot involve?

Companies participating in the pilot receive training and mentoring from businesses and experts who have experience of successfully implementing a 4-day working week. A team of academics and researchers work with participating companies to agree what metrics will be set to measure success. They then measure impact on productivity, to help determine the effectiveness of the pilot for each participating company.

What are the findings from the pilot so far?

In a press release on 21 September 2022, the findings so far from a survey of those companies participating in the pilot study were:

  • 88% of those that responded said that the 4-day week is working “well” for their business.
  • In terms of its impact on productivity:

–    46% said that productivity has remained around the same.
–    34% reported that it had improved slightly.
–    15% said that productivity has “improved significantly”.

  • 78% said that the transition to a 4 day week had been a relatively smooth process.
  • 86% said that they were likely to consider retaining the 4-day week after the trial period.

As employers continue to fight to attract and retain the best people, and workers increasingly seeing wellbeing as their number 1 priority, employers must look at all options available to them. Whilst it will not be right for many companies, we do expect to see a growing movement towards a 4-day working week model over the coming years, both in the UK and overseas.

For further information about how this might affect your business, or if you need help putting in place new working policies for employees, please get in touch with one of employment solicitors today.

About the authors


about the author img

Greg Burgess

Partner

Advises on restructures, TUPE, trade union law, dismissal claims, discrimination, harassment and has experience defending Employment Tribunal claims.

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