MPs are calling for a four-day working week

Ciara Sheppard
Photo credit: Regan Cameron

From Harper's BAZAAR

The subject of our work-life balance has always been fertile soil for debate.

We’ve all heard the stories about how neighbouring countries (namely Nordic), which operate on shorter working weeks, are reaping the rewards in both productivity and citizen satisfaction.

What’s more, a recent one-month trial of a four-day working week by Microsoft in Japan was found to boost productivity by 40 per cent. Elsewhere in New Zealand, one company who trailed the shorter week found similar spikes in productivity by its 240-strong staff.

Photo credit: Carlina Teteris - Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has recently encouraged employers to implement four-day weeks in New Zealand as a way to boost work-life balance and also the economy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, UK MPs are reportedly following suit by asking the government to consider the shorter week in response to the pandemic.

According to the Independent, cross-party signatories are asking Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to reduce work hours in a bid to boost the economy and citizen wellbeing amid growing levels of unemployment.

In the letter – seen by the outlet – they argue “shorter working time has been used throughout history as a way of responding to economic crises.

“They were used as a way of reducing unemployment during the Great Depression of the 1930s, which led to the normalisation of the eight-hour day and the 40-hour week. […]

“A four-day week would bring multiple benefits to society, the environment, our democracy, and our economy (through increased productivity).

“One of the biggest impacts would be better mental health and wellbeing across the board with more time available for socialising, family and community."

Photo credit: Maskot - Getty Images

It adds: “Three quarters of UK workers already supported a four-day working week before the coronavirus pandemic hit and millions of workers have now had a taste of working remotely and on different hours.

"It’s in no one’s interests to return back to the pressure and stress that people were under before this pandemic.”

The letter has reportedly been backed by the likes of former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, SNP’s Mhairi Black and Labour’s Zarah Sultana.

Now there's some legislation we'd be able to get on board with.

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