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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wakelin

Are employers moving to a four-day working week?

Updated: May 25, 2023

Working a four day week

A hundred employers in the UK are permanently moving their employees to a four-day working week.

The four-day week campaign

4-Day Week Global partnered with Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College, set up a four-day working week trial, to challenge the traditional five-day working week. The trial is aimed at testing a four-day on / three-day off working pattern, to see if it improves employee work-life balance and job satisfaction, as well as reduce absence levels in the workplace and employee turnover levels.

The four-day working week pilot was set up as a six-month trial starting in June and ending in December 2022. The pilot included over 3,000 workers across thirty different industries.

Employers involved in the pilot reduced their employees' working time to four-days each week (20% lower than the usual weekly hours) without reducing pay. For the pilot to work, it was important that hours were genuinely decreased and employees were not forced to work longer hours during their four working days.

Permanent move to a four-day working week

The campaign has been so successful, that it is reported that 100 UK companies have already decided to move away from the traditional five-day week, and are permanently moving to a four-day working week. By doing this, companies are aiming to improve their productivity and achieve the same results and outcomes in less hours.

The benefit to employees working a four-day week

In addition to employees benefiting from working less days and hours each week and receiving the same pay, Companies involved in the pilot have reported a happier, more motivated and productive workforce.

Outcomes from the four-day working week trial

A survey completed by employers taking part in the pilot showed 88% felt that a shorter working week worked well.

86% of employers taking part in the trial have shown an interest in moving to a four-day working week permanently.

The trial worked well for larger employers, in particular. However, smaller employers often struggled to cover the hours required to meet the needs of their customers. In addition to this, Companies who have a shift based system, struggled with the handover of work between shifts and others struggle with recruitment.

Some employees have raised concerns about completing five days' work in just four days, which they thought my increase stress. However, we are still waiting for the final results of the trial.

Moving to a four-day working week

Companies wishing to try a four-day working week should consult with their employees first, to ensure that they understand their views and concerns.

Any individual employee interested in moving to a four-day working week should make a flexible working request to their employer.

SWan HR Consultancy (London and Kent)

SWan HR is an HR consultancy that specialises in HR support for small to medium sized businesses in the South East.

"Where HR Succeeds, the Business Achieves"

SWan HR was founded by Susan Wakelin, MCIPD, who is a qualified HR professional with over thirty years' experience, from setting up, auditing and improving HR functions to management coaching and supporting organisations through difficult situations, transformation and change.

SWan HR provides a broad range of tailored HR services including an HR audit, HR advice, HR outsourcing, HR coaching and project work for all businesses.

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Contact Susan Wakelin now to take advantage of a free half-hour consultation to talk through your initial HR concerns and how you can manage these going forward.

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