Same salary, 1 less work day: Thousands to test the 4-day work week

Same salary, one less work day: Thousands commit to testing the 4-day work week

Four day work week

The UK has just enjoyed a number of public holidays in line with The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this week, but the 4-day work week will continue for thousands of workers.

In what is the largest trial of its kind anywhere in the world, 3,300 workers from 70 companies will take part in a trial of the 4-day work week, with a large range of industries covered including financial services and hospitality.

Starting Monday, the trial will last for six months. Workers will continue to receive 100 per cent of their pay, despite cutting one day from their full and usual working week. They will be expected to retain the same level of productivity.

Researchers will then assess the trial according to the new work week’s impact on gender equality, productivity levels, the environment and employee wellbeing.

A number of partners and researchers have come together to run the trial, including 4-Day Week Global, the 4-Day Week UK Campaign, Autonomy and Oxford University, Cambridge University and Boston College.

So what will be the result of the trial, and how could the findings impact workplaces in Australia?

Thousands of workers in the UK have committed to help us all find out, stepping back one day a week — and continuing with their usual pay — to help the researchers determine the outcome. Government-backed trials are also set to begin in Scotland and Spain later this year.

But we’ve seen positive outcomes from some of the evidence already gathered.

According to the trials that occurred in Iceland, reducing hours from 40 to 36 hours a week so no drop in productivity. Research has also found that 63 per cent of companies find it easier to attract and retain talent with a 4-day work week, while 78 per cent of employers on 4-day work weeks are happier and less stressed.

Meanwhile, individual companies have also run their own tests, including Perpetual in the UK, which invited academics to monitor the result of its own eight-week, four-day week trial for staff back in 2018. The new work week became permanent, and Perpetual’s CEO Andrew Barnes become an advocate for more companies to follow, later launching 4 Day Week Global.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has previously suggested the 4-day work week would be a great idea for promoting domestic tourism, particularly after lockdowns.

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