UK firms begin 4-day working week with full pay pilot scheme

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London: Thousands of workers across different sectors of the UK economy are participating in a major global study starting Monday by working for four instead of five days a week, while on full pay.

The 4-Day Week UK Pilot Programme is aimed at measuring productivity and wellbeing of staff over six months until December as they work a day less on the understanding of delivering similar results.

Around 70 companies across banking, hospitality, care, and animation studios are signed up to take part in what is thought to be the world's biggest pilot scheme of its kind. It involves academics from Oxford and Cambridge universities, as well as experts at Boston College in the US as they coordinate the experiment in partnership with the think tank Autonomy and not-for-profit coalition 4 Day Week Global.

“More than 3,300 workers, based throughout the UK and representing more than 30 sectors, are receiving 100 per cent of the pay for 80 per cent of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain at least 100 per cent productivity,” the 4 Day Week Campaign said in a statement.

Worldwide, over 150 companies and 7,000 employees across the United States, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand have signed up to participate in the six-month coordinated trials of the four-day working week as part of the 2022 programme.

"The four-day week is generally considered to be a triple dividend policy – helping employees, companies, and the climate. Our research efforts will be digging into all of this," said Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College and lead researcher behind the pilot scheme.

"The basis of this movement is that there's activity going on in many workplaces, particularly white-collar workplaces, that's low-productivity and that you can cut without harming the business. Sticking to a rigid, centuries-old, time-based system doesn't make sense," she explained.

Sam Smith, co-founder of Pressure Drop Brewery in north London and one of the participating companies, said it felt "like a good time" for the firm to try different working practices.

"The pandemic's made us think a great deal about work and how people organise their lives," he told the BBC.

"We're doing this to improve the lives of our staff and be part of a progressive change in the world that will improve people's mental health and wellbeing," he said.

The employers and workers in the pilot will have access to the expertise, tools and resources such as workshops and mentoring that the researchers feel would be needed to run a smooth and successful trial until the end of this year.


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