A group of cross-party MPs have written to the Chancellor asking him to set up a commission to consider the introduction of a 4-day working week. The rationale behind the 4-day week is that it would help the UK recover from the detrimental impact Covid-19 is having on the economy.
Signatories to the letter, who include former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and Green MP Caroline Lucas, have cited benefits such as; increased productivity, better health and wellbeing, more equal workplaces, better employee engagement and a smaller carbon footprint.
Signatories have also suggested that a change in our working week could provide greater job opportunities in a period which will see high rates of unemployment, and could help restructure the economy so that work can be shared out more equally.
The suggestion initially gained prominence in the UK during the December 2019 election campaign, when Labour proposed a policy of a 4-day week, with no loss of pay, which they intended to introduce within 10 years.
More recently, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called for employers to consider the 4-day week as a viable response to the Covid-19 crisis. Ardern believes the change would stimulate the economy and help encourage domestic tourism at a time when the tourism industry is suffering immensely.
Signatories pointed out that this is perfect timing for the implementation of a 4-day week: “work patterns have already been dramatically altered as a result of the pandemic.” Many workers have over the past few months become well-accustomed to home working and flexible working, so the argument put forward by the signatories would be ‘why regress, when Covid-19 has provided a prime opportunity for the UK economy to better adapt already-changing work patterns?’