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Read more articles in: Amanda Hyam, Blog, Employment Law

Workplaces challenges as worldwide trial of four-day working begins

Coming hot on the heels of the working from home or hybrid working revolution during the pandemic, the UK has joined a worldwide co-ordinated trial to assess the benefits of four-day working.

More than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies have started working a four-day week from 6 June with no loss of pay in the world’s biggest trial of the new working pattern.

How does the scheme work?

Running until December, the scheme has been organised by the 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the thinktank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Campaign, and researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.

The UK firms have joined hundreds of employers and thousands of employees taking part in trials in America, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, and Israel.

The trial is based on the 100:80:100 model – 100 per cent of pay for 80 per cent of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintaining 100 per cent productivity.

What are the benefits?

There are benefits for both employer and employees, which could include reduced travelling costs, reduced business premises costs with less heating and lighting or even renting smaller premises.

Many employees will find it insulates them from distractions and interruptions and allows them to concentrate better on the job and give a better work/life balance.

There are also challenges.

What are the challenges?

Implementing it can be challenging, as it will need a change to contracts of employment. Consultation is vital to make sure certain groups like part-time workers are not discriminated against with hour changes. Employers should give careful consideration as to how best to implement the change. Many will have childcare and shift pattern issues.

Other challenges could include:

  • Dealing with any drop in productivity. Should businesses abandon narrow individual productivity measurements, in favour of focussing on collective output?
  • If so, how will this affect disciplinary and grievance procedures if the system is perceived to be failing?
  • Monitoring stress levels as many will have to cram 40 hours into four 10-hour days. A health and wellbeing policy is a necessity with the workforce becoming older and more women being in the workplace.
  • Adjusting contracts of employment to cover holidays and sickness.
  • Implementing upskilling and training practices for dealing with the latest technology.

For help and advice on matters relating to employment law, contact our expert team today.

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