UK employees begin four-day work week pilot

It's been dubbed as the 'biggest ever trial of a four-day week in the world'

UK employees begin four-day work week pilot

Thousands of employees across the United Kingdom began trying out on Monday a new four-day work week scheme that will last until December.

"We are thrilled to announce that our #4DayWeek UK pilot programme, in association with 4 Day Week Campaign and Autonomy, begins today!" said 4 Day Week Global, organiser of the campaign, on Monday.

"We will be working with over 3000 UK employees to bring the four-day week to their businesses!"

Dubbed as the "biggest ever trial of a four-day week in the world," over 70 companies signed up for the UK pilot programme, coming from over 30 industries.

Employees who are a part of the pilot programme will still receive 100% of their pay for 80% of their time, "in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100% productivity."

This means 32 hours a week for employees, without their salaries reduced, in hopes that it would benefit them, employers, the economy, the society, and the environment.

"The UK works longer hours than most of Europe. It is not making us more productive," said the 4 Day Week Global on its webpage. "It is making us stressed, over-worked, and burnt out. It is time for a 4 Day Week."

According to the organisation, the nine-to-five, five-day work week is already "outdated and no longer fit for purpose."

"We invented the weekend a century ago and are long overdue an update to working hours," the organisation added.

Read more: UK government cracks down on CV discrimination

What's in it for businesses?

The 4 Day Week Global said on its website that employers could see higher performance from employees, thanks to the piloted work scheme.

"Trials and real-world examples show that employers who move to a four-day week increase productivity and reduce costs," said the organisation, citing a Henley Business School study in 2021, which estimated that businesses could save £104 billion a year under the working arrangement.

Businesses are also more likely to attract and retain high-quality employees who are "happier and less stressed and take fewer sick days."

For employees, the four-day work week would give them time to "live happier and more fulfilled lives." It would also grant them time to give attention to rest, leisure, and other tasks.

Across the world, employers from other nations that are also participating in the four-day work week trial have begun carrying out the work arrangement.

A total of 17 Irish companies began the six-month trial for a four-day work week in January 31. There are also 38 North American companies, with about 2,300 employees, trialling the working arrangement since April 4.

In Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, 22 companies have signed up for far, with the trial to begin on August 1.

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