Employment Law

A 4 Day Working Week – Is it right for your business?

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A 4 Day Working Week – Is it right for your business?

Over the past few years, there has been much debate about the introduction of a shorter working week and the benefits that it would bring to the workplace. It isn’t a new idea as countries such as, Iceland and Japan have adopted a 4 day working week in certain businesses following trials noting a huge success. There is now a growing interest for a 4 day working week in UK since the pandemic due to changes in how we work. For instance, hybrid working, homeworking and the increased use of technology.
The UK has recently launched a 6 month pilot scheme into 4 day working week to find out whether employees are more productive with longer weekends. Around 30 companies are taking part in the trial, where employees will be paid the same amount as if they were working the usual 5 days. This is set to begin in June.
So, how do you know if a 4 day working week is right for your business? To help you decide, here are some key benefits and disadvantages.

What are the benefits of a 4 day working week?

The idea behind a 4 day working week is to achieve the same results in fewer hours so employees have more time away from work. For instance, to spend time with family or to pursue other interests.
There are also benefits for the business too, such as:

  • Increased productivity – studies have shown that a 4 day working week provides more time for employees to relax away from work and are less likely to suffer burn out. Overworked employees are likely to be less productive than employees working a normal working week.
  • A more equal workforce – statistically speaking, women tend to not return to employment after maternity leave due to childcare responsibilities. A 4 day working week would promote an equal workforce as employees would be able to manage care responsibilities and work commitments. It may also create a larger candidate pool for recruitment.
  • Good mental health – a 4 day working week could lead to happier and more committed employees that are less likely to be stressed. As a result, this could lead to less stress related illnesses and absences.
  • Lower costs – given that the business would be closed for one extra day a week, there will be lower operating costs. Additionally, there may also be cut costs in expenses too as employees would be paying less to commute.
What are the disadvantages of a 4 day working week?

Whilst there are certainly many benefits, there are also challenges of a 4 day working week could bring. It doesn’t suit every business model. It’s an option that’s only viable for those that can re-adapt their whole business to a new way of working.

  • Increased workload levels – in reality, most employees will be expected to work the same amount, but in 4 days instead. This could potentially have the opposite effect of creating longer hours, more stress and negative impact on productivity and wellbeing.
  • Potential disruption on business sales – a reduced working week is likely to impact clients or customers as it may take a while for them to adapt to the new working pattern. It could create delays and impact client or customer satisfaction and relations. It takes a mindset shift to adapt to these delays.

It remains to be seen whether a 4 day working week is the new way forward in the UK and only time will tell whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages following the outcome of the pilot scheme. However, it is clear that the benefits and disadvantages of a 4 day working week will differ between industries and culture.

Author: Anna Schiavetta, Employment Law Solicitor at Howarths
If you are considering trialling or changing to a 4 day week, please contact a member of the team on 01274 864 999. We are on hand to advise you of the necessary processes to follow from an Employment Law and HR perspective, together with preparing the relevant documentation.


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