Britain starts trial of four-day week with thousands of workers

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A worker in a face mask cleans a cafe in London, Britain, on October 1, 2020. File Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE

June 6 (UPI) — More than 3,300 workers at more than 70 companies in Britain are participating in a six-month pilot to research the benefits of a four-day work week.

The program is organized by not-for-profit group 4 Day Week Global with the thinktank Autonomy and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.

Researchers will measure the productivity and well-being of the participating employees throughout the study, including their sleep and levels of stress and burnout.

Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology at Boston College, said that Monday marked a “historic day for worktime reduction.”

“Perfect post-Jubilee timing. Very excited to be part of this effort,” she said in a tweet.

When asked whether participating workers would still be completing 40 hours each week, Schor responded that employees “must have a significant reduction in worktime with no loss of pay” in order to participate.

The trial is based on a 100:80:100 model, The Guardian reported, meaning that workers receive 100% of pay for 80% of the time while promising to maintain 100% productivity.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognizing that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge,” Joe O’Connor, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, told the Independent.

“The impact of the ‘great resignation’ is now proving that workers from a diverse range of industries can produce better outcomes while working shorter and smarter.”

The pilot comes as the Institute of Employment Rights, another British think tank, said it is also due to release the findings of a study on reducing worktime without reducing pay.

Four-day week trials will also begin later this year in Spain and Scotland.

“We have long been a champion of flexible working, but the pandemic really moved the goalposts in this regard. For Charity Bank, the move to a four-day week seems a natural next step,” said Ed Siegel, the bank’s CEO, in comments to the Independent.

“The 20th Century concept of a five-day working week is no longer the best fit for 21st Century business. We firmly believe that a four-day week with no change to salary or benefits will create a happier workforce and will have an equally positive impact on business productivity, customer experience and our social mission.”

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