How would a four-day working week work in the UK?

What is the concept of a four-day working week? 

As you may have seen in the news recently, the UK has launched a trial of a four-day working week which will test whether employees are more productive and motivated with a shorter working week and an extra day added to the weekend.

This trial, which will begin in June this year and last 6 months, will involve around 70 participating companies in the UK trialling the idea of a four-day week with no change in pay for employees using the 100:80:100 model. This means employees receive 100% of their pay for 80% of their usual time with the commitment to maintain 100% productivity.

Alternatively, a four-day working week could, in some cases, mean splitting four full days of work over 5 days.

Why now? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many businesses make the shift to a more flexible working structure including the use of working from home, and this has strengthened the calls for a further change to see a four-day working week implemented across the UK.

What are the benefits to a four-day working week? 

Improved health and wellbeing for employees

A three day weekend could hugely improve a person’s health and wellbeing as they would be able to spend more time doing what they love, such as seeing their friends and family. An improvement to a person’s health and wellbeing is known to boost morale around the workplace and potentially lead to a happier working environment.

Reduced costs

If the office is closed for an extra day in the week then running costs will be down. On top of that, employees will spend less money on fuel or public transport when travelling to and from the office.

Recruitment and increased staff retention

Flexible working patterns is now a favoured perk that can persuade employees to stay at a company and it can also help you recruit the best talent and keep them happy too.

However, the change to a four-day working week at the same pay will only happen if there is a commitment from the employee that they will keep up with their workload and increase their productivity in the four days that they work across the week.

Can a four-day working week help the environment? 

Yes, according to Platform London and the 4 Day Week Campaign, this new model would mean less commuting and potentially reduce the UK’s carbon footprint by as much 127 million tonnes.

Is the public in favour of a four day working week? 

A recent study from Henley Business School reports that companies that adopted a four-day week found that 78% were happier, 70% less stressed and 62% took fewer days off ill.

Further research showed that 67% of Brits would back the move for a four-day working week.

What do we think at Plus Accounting?

Peter Hedgethorne

“The changes to work patterns in the past couple of years, and people’s greater appreciation of a decent work/life balance, has predictably encouraged a move towards a reduction in working hours.

Whether this can be carried off with no reduction in productivity remains to be seen, and will no doubt vary between industry sectors, but for previously office-based workers who are now enjoying time saving benefits of working from home there is a good chance that it could be achieved.”

Helen Griffiths

“When I first heard about the idea of a four-day week I thought that was appealing and assuming it would mean a work week from Monday to Thursday, I thought I would love to have a three-day weekend.

I then went to a Big Debate run by Brighton Chamber on this very topic and I came out with a different view after hearing various perspectives. I now think what is important is the need for flexibility which can come in many forms such as a shorter working week, or the ability to leave early on a certain day to take an exercise class.

To me the debate is about more than a ‘4 day week’ because there are lots of sectors where that would not work easily, such as in healthcare and I would be reluctant for a set way of being flexible to be legislated because flexibility means something different to everyone.”

Lucy Robinson

“I am interested to find out the results of the current trial. I think the idea is very positive and that having an additional day to rest, socialise or be more active every week would increase productivity and reduce the likelihood of burnout. As I am still training, it would also give me an additional day to focus on studying, taking some pressure off and allowing me to have more free time at the weekends.

I think, however, that it would have to be widely adopted across all office based industries to allow it to work, creating a universal day where businesses are closed. Otherwise, it could create issues with communication and meeting deadlines.

Overall, I think the benefits would outweigh the limitations, providing that employees keep up productivity and it is, therefore, not detrimental for businesses.”

More information

The workers getting 100% pay for 80% of the hours – BBC News

Author: James Hooper, Marketing Assistant, Plus Accounting

Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal, belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Plus Accounting. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site

Date published: 27 January 2022

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