A couple of weeks ago, more than 30 companies around the UK announced that they’d be taking part in a four-day working week pilot. Supported by the Four-Day Week Campaign and working with researchers from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, those firms have committed to paying their employees a full wage to work just 32 (out of a usual 40) hours per week.
The idea is that when workers are given more leisure time, this can increase wellbeing and make them more productive – and in turn boost company profits (see a history of the campaign for a four-day working week and the previous trials here). What we’d do for an extra day of weekend, every week, for no loss of pay, eh? The stuff of dreams.
The Four-Day Week Campaign has gained momentum in the past few weeks, and in the last few days three more companies have joined the project. Yo Telecom, Hutch and MBL Seminars all have between 70 and 120 employees, and this year they’ll be trialling a six-month-long period of working 32 hours – rather than 40 hours – every week. They join companies like Canon Medical Research, Target Publishing, Gracefruit, Electra Lighting, Crystalised and CMG Technologies.
So how can we all get a slice of the four-day-week pie? Well, the most straightforward way is by organising in your workplace. Using something as simple as a group chat, you can gain support from your colleagues and pressure your higher-ups into giving the scheme a go. You can find official Four-Day Week Campaign advice on that process here – and you can find out more about how to get your employer to sign up via this link.
Alternatively, if you’re a member of a trade union, you can also petition it to try and get your employer to participate in the scheme. This is a bit easier, because pressuring employers for better work environments is one of the crucial things unions are supposed to be there for. But in any case, don’t sit around waiting for anything to happen. You’re very, very unlikely to get a four-day working week implemented from the top, so collective bargaining and pressure are key.
So, what are you waiting for? Get organising. The official Four-Day Week Campaign six-month trial starts in June, and the deadline for employers to sign up is March 31.
So… what have four-day working week studies in other countries found?