Second UK four-day week trial planned for November but new Government appears unreceptive

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A new four-day working week pilot will be held in the UK later this year and companies have been invited to sign up and take part in the latest six-month trial.

The pilot is being conducted by the 4 Day Week Campaign in partnership with flexible working consultancy Timewise, with research support provided by the University of Cambridge, Boston College and the Autonomy Institute.

Advocates of the four-day week argue that a shorter work week for the same pay improves employee wellbeing, boosts staff retention and increases productivity. Photograph: iStock/Adam Webb 

It follows an earlier four-day week pilot in 2022, which found that over the six-month period there was a 65 per cent reduction in the number of sick days taken by staff, while revenues of the companies taking part rose by an average of 1.4 per cent. Of the 61 companies that took part in the first pilot, “at least 54” have kept the four-day week in place, said the 4 Day Week Campaign.

The latest four-day week trial will begin on 4 November, with training and workshops for participants due to start in mid-September. It will also include companies keen to experiment with other forms of workplace flexibility, such as flexible start and finish times, compressed hours, or a nine-day fortnight.  

Organisations that are interested in taking part are being invited to sign up for the November pilot here. Results of the trial will be presented to the UK’s newly elected Labour Government in summer 2025.

However, a spokesperson for the UK Department for Business and Trade told Safety Management that the introduction of a universal four-day working week “isn’t government’s planned policy”. The spokesperson pointed to an article published by The Telegraph in June, which reported that the Labour Party had denied plans to revive a policy from its 2019 manifesto, when Jeremy Corbyn was in charge, to bring in a four-day week.

Four-day week advocates argue that a shorter work week for the same pay improves employee wellbeing, boosts staff retention and increases productivity. Writing in Safety Management in March, Samuel Hunt and Aliyah Davies from the 4 Day Week Campaign said their mantra was that “people will not only do the same amount of work in four days compared to five, but more”.

The announcement about the latest UK-wide pilot comes days after South Cambridgeshire District Council published the findings from its own four-day week trial, which was conducted between the beginning of 2023 and the end of March 2024.

Independent analysis of the Council’s trial, carried out by the Universities of Cambridge and Salford, found that in 11 out of 24 areas performance had improved during the trial. This included the percentage of calls to the Council’s contact centre being answered; the number of major planning application decisions being made in time; and the staff turnover rate, which dropped by almost 40 per cent. A further 11 key performance indicators showed “no significant differences” during the trial, the analysis found.

“The trial suggests that a four-day work week maintains the quality of public services as measured by key performance indicators, while attracting new staff and improving workers’ wellbeing,” said Daiga Kamerade, a professor of work and wellbeing at the University of Salford. 

Professor Brendan Burchell from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Sociology added: These results are supportive of moves to reduce the length of the working week but are not a surprise. In the past two years, other researchers have studied many private sector employers in the UK and elsewhere that also reported the company’s performance was maintained after a 20 per cent reduction in hours of work; employees and managers can find better ways of doing things to work more efficiently, given the right guidance and motivation.”


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