Four-day working week?

TUC boss: advances in technology could make it possible

Evening Standard

Mixed reactions over union's call for four-day working week

Audacious proposals to cut the UK working week to four days drew mixed reactions from business chiefs on Monday.

Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O'Grady said bosses and shareholders were benefiting from advances in IT but staff should also gain as technology makes jobs easier.

The union, meeting for its annual conference in Manchester, wants the Government to help people work less but get paid the same.

Matthew Fell, CBI UK chief policy director, said: "We need to be bold in making the most of the new technologies if the UK is going to win globally.

Read Full Article
Download Perspecs
Perspecs

Is a four-day week the next step in the evolution of the workplace?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Working 9-to-5 is something we make take for granted now, but the eight-hour working day is something that unions fought for in the 19th century. The Eight Hour Movement demanded: "Eight hours work, eight hours rest, eight hours to do as we may".

At the start of the week, it may feel like the weekend has flown by too quickly, but a two-day weekend was not possible until the 20th century. And if you need to take a break from it all, you can enjoy paid holidays thanks to the campaigning last century.

Is the next step in the evolution of workplace a four-day week? Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), certainly believes so. She told a TUC Congress in Manchester yesterday that the advances in technology could lead to one less day in work, while keeping decent pay for workers.

And she's not the only one who thinks that workers should have longer weekends.

It is a popular policy, according to a new report by the TUC. It found that eight in 10 workers said they wanted to reduce working time in the future - while 45 per cent of workers would opt for a four-day week, without a loss in pay.

Full-time workers in the UK put in a longer shift than most members of the EU, behind only Austria and Greece. Around 1.4 million people work seven days a week in Britain, and 3.3 million people work more than 45 hours a week.

Aidan Harper, a member of the 4DayWeek Campaign, writes in the Huffington Post that a shorter working week would improve our mental and physical health. He argues that it would give us "more time to exercise, eat a healthy diet and less time spent in stressful and unfulfilling job". Harper cites figures from 2015/16 that showed stress accounted for 37 per cent of all work-related ill health cases. Overall, 45 per cent of all working days were lost due to ill health.

In 2016, 12.5 million work days were lost because of work-related stress, depression or anxiety. According to the Guardian's Owen Jones, the biggest single cause of this stress – in some 44 per cent of cases – was workload.

He writes: "It strikes me, though, that few would disagree with the notion that we should spend more time with our families, watching our children grow, exercising, reading books, or just relaxing.

"So much of our lives is surrendered to subordinating ourselves to the needs and whims of others, turning human beings into cash cows rather than independent, well-rounded individuals."

Four-day weeks may seem like a distant dream, but so were the eight-hour day or two-day weekends back in the day. There is the desire for it, but will there be action?

Download Perspecs
The Guardian

Four-day working week for all is a realistic goal this century, unions say

Advances in technology mean that a four-day week working week is a realistic goal for most people by the end of this century, the leader of the UK's trade union movement will say.

Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), will use her speech to the organisation's 150th annual gathering to insist that evolving technology and communications should cut the number hours spent at work.

Read Full Article
Download Perspecs