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  • A four-day working week pilot is set to launch. But is it as good as it sounds?

A four-day working week pilot is set to launch. But is it as good as it sounds?

Wednesday 1 June marks the start of a pilot programme that could change the world of work as we know it.

It’s the date on which an estimated 30,000 employees from 60 businesses will begin a six-month trial of a four-day working week.

Participating employees will cut their hours to 80%, receive 100% of their pay, but will be expected to maintain 100% of the productivity.

The launch of this pilot follows calls for more flexible working as the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted for many the desire for an improved work-life balance.

And highlighted by “The Great Resignation”, jobseekers are now placing a much higher priority on employers that favour more flexible working practises, whether that’s splitting time spent working between their home and their office, or taking a more adaptable approach to working hours.

Belgium has already introduced the right to a four-day working week without a loss of salary. In this instance though, employees are able to work their contracted hours in longer blocks in exchange for a three-day weekend every week.

Whilst a four-day working week may be a welcome introduction to many workers – and it has been quite the success for companies who have trialled it thus far - there are still practical challenges which employers need to be prepared for - and it may not suit every business model out there.

Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, explains:

“Businesses who are offering flexible and hybrid working practices are finding themselves more able to attract talent to fulfil their vacancies where those that favour a more traditional completely office-based role spear to be struggling with recruitment and retention.

“More flexible approaches tend to reap benefits for both employers and employees alike through boosted productivity and improved morale and wellbeing.

“However, a four-day work week is not without its challenges.

“To make such a change, employers would first need to seek agreement from their staff and amend contracts and policies as necessary.

“They would also need to review their working practices and put measures in place to enable staff to complete their work during these shorter hours.

“Whilst a shorter working week sounds like a positive, having to complete the same amount of work and hit the same productivity levels as previously, may lead some employees to experience increased work-related stress, and ultimately, burn-out.”


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