- A four-day week is more likely to mean a reduction in overall hours, rather than a reduction in days.
- This can work in a number of ways, said Rachel Statham, senior researcher at the IPPR think tank.
- Trials in Iceland and a recently published report in Scotland offer a potential model.
When Mark Takano, the Democratic Representative for California’s 41st District, presented his 32-hour labor law in Congress in August 2021, he used Twitter to announce it.
“BIG NEWS: I just introduced a law to Congress calling for a four-day work week,” his tweet read. “It is high time that Americans had more time to live their lives, and not just to work.”
But is Takano’s vision for a four-day week likely to come true?
Often when people like Takano talk about the concept, they talk about a more general reduction in working time, without a general loss of pay.
The general term “four-day week” is a misnomer, as Insider previously reported. Much of it is a banner marketing.
The proposed legislation aims to reduce the standard work week to 32 hours, by reducing the 40-hour threshold at which workers are entitled to overtime payment. Takano said this would result in a 10% salary increase.
The vision of spirited tech workers, usually young and wealthy, pointing on a Thursday for a long weekend is a narrow version. But the reality for many is going to be very different.
Take some well-publicized Icelandic essays. The trials were widely hailed as a “crushing success” for the concept of the four-day week. However, the majority of observed reductions were related to working hours rather than a move towards reduced office working days.
In one trial, healthcare workers, local government workers, and service center workers reduced their weekly hours from 35 to 40. The other saw officials, on various shift models, cut their hours.
“A shorter work week is not always a shift from a Monday-Friday working model to a full-time Monday-Thursday model, it could be a more gradual process,” said Rachel Statham, researcher principal at the Institute for Public think tank. Political research in Scotland.
“You can’t increase the productivity of social services since you no longer need a caregiver to come in on a Friday,” Statham said.
Scotland has become the latest government to announce support for the four-day week. He has set aside £ 10million to fund the trials.
Like Takano’s Bill, the Scottish experience is still in its infancy. Statham is the principal author of a report released this week calling for funds to be used for trials studying the effects on different roles and sectors.
She said it’s important to make the distinction because the idea of reduced working hours needs to work for all levels of the economy – rather than a change that occurs exclusively among those who already have levels. high job security. These include technical and knowledge workers.
Otherwise, lawsuits could reinforce the inequalities that already exist in society. Low-income workers in Scotland, for example, are often forced to work excessively long hours due to a lack of job security.
Statham points to increasing annual leave rights, offering longer parental leave, and even increasing sabbatical rights, as some of the “policy levers” that could lead to reduced working time, more generally.
While this may not lead to the universal notion of an extra day off for everyone, any kind of reduction in working hours is an important step in improving work-life balance.
“To get business to a point where it’s a three day weekend requires a huge change in the way we structure our company, ”said Charlotte Lockhart, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, a campaign and advisory group.
“But with any of these conversations, it’s about launching the idea first, and then integrating it into the conversation that ultimately leads to the change,” she added.