Kirsten Oswald MP speaks at launch of 4 Day Week campaign
Updated: Jun 14
Ahead of the upcoming general election, campaigners for a four-day week have launched a new manifesto and called on all political parties to sign up to the idea. The document proposes that parties across the political spectrum adopt several commitments around a transition to a shorter working week with no loss in pay.
"British workers put in some of the longest full-time working hours in Europe, but we still have one of the least productive economies," the manifesto begins, citing research by the TUC. "Numerous studies and pilots from across the world have shown that moving to a four-day working week with no loss of pay is a win-win for workers and employers, with improvements in both wellbeing and productivity." The manifesto is supported by progressive think-tanks including Autonomy, Common Wealth and the New Economics Foundation, and has launched with support from SNP and Labour MPs.
THE NUMBER OF STAFF RESIGNING FELL SIGNIFICANTLY, AS DID THE BURN-OUT RATE
Surprisingly even Natalie Campbell, who is running to be the next Conservative Mayor of London, spoke in favour of working time reduction, which has historically been seen as an idea of the left. "We need to rethink society, because people aren't well," she said at an online launch event. "We want a better level of wellbeing – and the planet is crumbling under the strain of the traditional capitalist system." Representatives from Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party also spoke at the online event, highlighting growing cross-party interest in the idea. Specifically, the 4 Day Week Campaign's 'mini manifesto' calls for:
a reduction to the maximum working week from 48 hours per week to 32 hours per week by 2030
an amendment to official flexible working guidance to include the right for workers to request a four-day, 32-hour working week with no loss of pay
a £100 million fund to support companies in the private sector to move to a four-day, 32-hour working week
a fully funded four-day week pilot in the public sector
a Working Time Council, bringing together trade unions, industry leaders and business leaders to coordinate on policy and implementation of a shorter working week.
Last year, the UK-based campaign launched the world's biggest pilot of a shorter working week to date, involving 61 companies and 2,900 workers over six months. Since the trial concluded in December 2022, the campaign say 56 of these participating companies have continued with a four-day week and 18 have made the change permanent.
These include Sheffield-based firm Rivelin Robotics, who told Now Then last year that they believed "increased productivity comes from an increase in rest, not in a vacuum." SNP MP Kirsten Oswald told the launch event that the results of the pilot were "overwhelmingly positive, both for empoyers and employees." "The revenues of the [participating] companies were not adversely affected – on average revenues increased by 1.4% compared to a similar period in a previous year."
IT DOES FEEL FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE LIKE THEIR WORK-LIFE BALANCE HAS GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL
"Four in ten [workers] said they felt less stressed," she continued. "The number of staff resigning fell significantly, as did the burn-out rate. 96% said they'd like to continue with a four-day week." Crucially, the New York Times reported that most of the companies taking part in the pilot reported no loss of productivity, and some even said they had seen a significant improvement alongside the wellbeing benefits for employees.
Another pilot in Iceland involving 2,500 workers also found that productivity increased or stayed the same in tandem with improvements to worker wellbeing. "It does feel for the vast majority of people like their work-life balance has gotten out of control," said Green Party deputy leader Zack Polanski. "If we're going to grow things, what are we going to grow? GDP or our leisure time?"