UK 4-day work week: Is it here to stay?

20 December 2022 | Applicable law: England and Wales | 2 minute read

We reported on the campaign for a 4-day work week in February 2022. The campaign involved a pilot coordinated by 4 Day Week Global, in partnership with leading think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Campaign, and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.

The six-month pilot involved more than 3,300 workers in over thirty sectors throughout the UK and ran alongside similar pilots in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

Those involved in the UK trial received 100 per cent pay for 80 per cent of their normal working hours, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 per cent productivity.

According to a report in The Guardian newspaper on 27 November 2022, 100 companies, employing 2,600 staff in the UK, have now signed up to make the 4-day week a permanent shift, with no cut in pay.  

What are the benefits?

In a mid-trial survey, 95% of the participating organisations report either the maintenance of productivity or an improvement. Some also reported significant improvements in work/life balance for employees, improved employee well-being and increased talent retention.

Should you be considering a 4-day work week?

Given these encouraging results, employers might wish to consider whether a four-day working week could enhance their own business performance. And given the marked impact on employee satisfaction and retention rates, some employers might consider proposing it as a smart alternative to significant pay increases at a time of rapidly rising costs. 

Sceptical employers might also note that customer satisfaction also appears to increase with the new working pattern. Indeed, Atom Bank, one of the biggest companies to adopt permanent 4-day work week, found that during the trial, their Customer Goodwill score rose from 83.1% to 85.8%. 

It would seem that employers have little to lose and perhaps much to gain by introducing the idea of a 4-day work week in their own workplace, but as with any significant change it is more likely to succeed after consultation and giving staff the chance to express their own views. 

If you want to know the best way to implement this or how to trial it within your organisation, speak to a member of our employment team. 

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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