Thousands of British workers are starting a four-day work week from Monday with no pay cuts in the biggest lawsuit of its kind.
The pilot, which will last for six months, involves 3,300 workers spanning 70 companies, ranging from financial services providers to a fish-and-chip restaurant.
During the program, workers receive 100% of their pay for working only 80% of their regular week, in exchange for promising to maintain 100% of productivity.
The program is run by the non-profit 4 Day Week Global, Autonomy, a think tank, and 4 Day Week UK Campaign in collaboration with researchers from Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.
Sienna O’Rourke, brand manager at Pressure Drop Brewing, an independent brewery in London, told CNN Business that the company’s biggest goal was to improve the mental health and well-being of its employees.
«Pandemic [has] made us think a lot about work and how people organize their lives, she said. “We do this to improve the lives of our employees and be part of a progressive change in the world.”
Given that the company produces and ships products, workers have less flexibility as to when and where they work, O’Rourke said. However, any difficulties in navigating holidays and sick leave will be addressed as a team.
To date, Iceland has conducted the largest pilot for a shorter working week between 2015 and 2019, with 2,500 government employees involved in two major trials. These trials found no corresponding decline in productivity among participants, and a dramatic increase in employee well-being.
Calls to shorten the working week have gained momentum in recent years in several countries. As millions of employees switched to teleworking during the pandemic – which cut heavy commuting time and costs – demands for greater flexibility have only become higher.
Government-backed trials will take place in Spain and Scotland later this year, the 4 Day Week Campaign said in a press release.
Joe O’Connor, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, said workers have shown they can work “shorter and smarter.”
“As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognizing that the new frontier of competition is quality of life, and that reduced hours, production-focused work are the tools to give them a competitive edge,” he said in a statement.
Researchers will measure the impact the new work pattern will have on productivity levels, gender equality, the environment and employee well-being.