Work-Life Balance

Tempted by the four-day working week trial on your business_

In 1956, then US Vice President Richard Nixon promised Individuals that they’d solely should work 4 days every week “within the not too distant future”. Is that this prospect any nearer in 2023, and will this feature work for what you are promoting?

Earlier this 12 months the outcomes have been printed of a six-month trial involving round 2,900 staff who had moved to a four-day working week. The organisers of the UK trial, the non-profit organisation 4 Day Week World heralded it as a hit for each employers and staff.

The trial was organised by campaigners and researchers, who provide consulting to corporations who want to implement a four-day working week. The experiment was primarily based on the 100-80-100 mannequin; staff obtain 100% pay for working 80% of their earlier hours and decide to sustaining 100% productiveness. That is in distinction with the idea of compressed hours the place staff work their typical full-time hours however compressed over 4 days.

The fashions

There have been 61 organisations which volunteered to participate and whereas some organisations closed at some point every week, collaborating employers adopted totally different fashions. Organisations that wanted to take care of five-day protection used staggered days off, or staff ‘buddied up’ with a colleague with comparable expertise and coated one another’s time off.

Companies with robust seasonal demand opted for annualised hours. Others adopted a ‘decentralised’ method, permitting every division to work out the most effective mannequin for its wants. Others made continuation of the scheme for particular divisions of the enterprise conditional on that division assembly its key efficiency indicators (KPIs).

The outcomes

After the trial ended, 92% of the organisations continued with the association, many to evaluate its affect over an extended interval. By publication of the report, 18 had adopted it completely. This consequence nonetheless must be thought of within the context that the collaborating organisations have been self-selecting volunteers who obtained help to implement the change of their enterprise.

Optimistic affect

The report on the trial famous an enchancment in worker wellbeing with 39% of staff saying that they felt much less harassed on the finish of the trial and 71% reporting diminished ranges of burn-out. Additionally they reported important decreases in staff leaving and absence charges.

Solely 23 of the collaborating organisations supplied knowledge on modifications to income, reporting a mean 1.4% improve in productiveness over the six-month trial interval.

4 day working within the public sector

Some native authorities have lately launched 4 day working for administrative workers, refuse assortment operatives and others, viewing this feature as an answer for acute recruitment and retention difficulties and within the course of decreasing their reliance on company workers.

Nonetheless this has met with a backlash from some MPs and others. Final month the Native Authorities Minister wrote to South Cambridgeshire District Council, which was the primary native authority to trial 4 day working, requiring the Council to finish its experiment out of considerations that the four-day mannequin was unlikely to reveal worth for cash for its taxpayers and residents. The Council nonetheless intends to press forward with its trial, asserting its proper to find out its personal employment insurance policies. It maintains that the four-day week has improved recruitment and retention, diminished company workers prices, and delivered efficiency enchancment in a variety of areas. Cambridge Metropolis Council has extra lately accepted a four-day working week trial for its waste assortment service.

Worldwide traits in direction of 4 day working

This trial by UK companies types a part of a worldwide marketing campaign in direction of the adoption of 4 day working as a cultural norm, which is more and more gaining traction in Europe and worldwide. For instance, in 2019 Microsoft Japan carried out a trial four-day working week with a specific concentrate on decreasing time spent by staff in attending conferences. In 2021 the Japanese authorities beneficial that corporations permit their workers to go for a four-day work week, as a part of an initiative geared toward bettering work-life steadiness.

The Portuguese Authorities has funded the same pilot scheme to the UK trial, additionally primarily based on the 100-80-100 mannequin and involving 39 corporations. Belgium has gone additional with the introduction in 2022 of a authorized entitlement for workers to request a four-day work week, by the compression of their 38 hours, with the said targets of giving folks and firms extra freedom to rearrange their work time and bettering work-life steadiness.

What are the downsides of 4 day working?

This is probably not a sensible possibility for a lot of companies, for instance it is probably not inexpensive to recruit extra workers or pay extra time beyond regulation, which will increase the wage invoice to facilitate the break day. Companies which want to make sure continuous cowl to fulfill buyer necessities might have explicit issue, notably as soon as absences resulting from annual depart and illness are taken intoaccount. Managing working hours and adequate cowl, in addition to monitoring efficiency or different KPIs, is probably going to make use of up administration time and create administrative challenges. The affect of 4 day engaged on efficiency and high quality of supply to purchasers may be unsure. For instance, the latest UK trial didn’t take into account buyer satisfaction.

These preparations might not obtain one of many desired outcomes of improved worker wellbeing, the truth is they may have the alternative impact for some folks. Though the precept is that staff will work extra effectively, as an illustration by jettisoning pointless conferences, these with intense workloads might battle to get every thing performed in diminished hours.

Some employers might discover that the four-day week works in some components of the organisation however not others. This presents a troublesome resolution in weighing up the advantages in some components of the enterprise in opposition to the probably total harm to morale and cohesion among the many workforce.

Authorized implications

There are a selection of authorized points to contemplate when introducing the four-day week, whether or not as a trial or completely.

Contractual modifications

Contracts of employment might want to permit for the brand new working preparations. Flexibility clauses might permit the employer to make the modifications, however these nonetheless have to be caused in an inexpensive approach. If there isn’t a flexibility within the contract, employers have to agree modifications to working hours and patterns with the workers, whether or not on a short lived foundation or as everlasting modifications. Some employers might have to introduce a requirement for workers to work shifts or work time beyond regulation to supply cowl for colleagues. Employers have to issue within the time and sources to seek the advice of with workers to hunt their settlement. Altering working hours and patterns might have an effect on childcare preparations or preparations workers have in place to assist accommodate a incapacity. Care must be taken when introducing modifications to deal with particular person circumstances. Failure to take action could possibly be discriminatory.

Employers trying to run a trial ought to make it clear to staff that that is only a non permanent measure. They might want to make sure that the contractual modifications give them the choice to vary again to the earlier working hours on the finish of the trial.

Half-time staff

Half-time staff are protected against much less beneficial remedy in comparison with full-time staff. To make sure that they’re pretty handled, choices can be found comparable to decreasing their hours professional rata or growing their pay. In any other case you possibly can danger an employment tribunal declare.

Double jobbing

Confronted with the cost-of-living disaster, some staff might use their time off to tackle a second job. This might result in fatigue, notably if the tempo of their essential job has elevated for the reason that 4 day-week was launched, which might probably cut back the person’s productiveness. In some settings, comparable to healthcare and development, tiredness can current a hazard to the well being and security of the employee and others. When checking for compliance with the principles on working time and relaxation breaks, employers should keep in mind work performed with different employers.

We will examine in case your contracts handle this case and talk about find out how to introduce provisions to, on the very least, require staff to let you know a couple of second job. For some roles, the contract ought to handle conflicts of curiosity and confidentiality points that would come up.


Employers might want to cut back the entire variety of days annual vacation allowance to mirror the diminished variety of working days. This contractual change would have to be agreed as a part of the bundle of modifications. The place staff work totally different days of the week, comparable to on a staggered association, we will work by with you find out how to take account of public holidays.

How we may also help

If you’re contemplating piloting a four-day week or restructuring your working preparations, we may also help you to guage the totally different choices for what you are promoting.

After you have chosen a mannequin, we may also help you to work by the implications of the brand new preparations and a trial to make sure equity for all workers, offering readability and a easy transition, in addition to supplying you with the choice to reverse the choice.

Contact Senior Affiliate, Patrick Glencross, in Furley Web page employment staff for additional data on 01227 763939 or e-mail

Please be aware: This text is for basic data solely and doesn’t represent authorized or skilled recommendation.

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