How much will the four day week cost?
This week, Research by the Centre for Policy Studies, a centre-right think tank, has found that Labour’s aim to introduce a four-day working week would cost the taxpayer at least £17 billion a year because of the impact on the public sector wage bill. It found that reducing the hours of public sector employees, including doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters and police officers, would impose a significant extra burden on the Treasury because the workforce would have to expand. The think tank commented: “At the very least this shift to a 32-hour working week would mean a £17 billion hit to the public sector, even making the most optimistic assumptions.” The study said: “It could at worst mean a possible £45 billion hit to the public sector, assuming a fall from 42.5 hours to 32 hours and no increase in productivity.”
This comes as Microsoft a program this summer in Japan called the “Work Life Choice Challenge,” which shut down its offices every Friday in August and gave all employees an extra day off each week. The results stated that while the amount of time spent at work was cut dramatically, productivity — measured by sales per employee — went up by almost 40% compared to the same period the previous year, the company said in a statement.
Many may expect that with a 20% reduction of time working, productivity also reduces. However, the trial by Microsoft showed a clear upward trend of productivity when swapping to a four-day working week. Flexible working brings many positives that cannot be measured against our standard 9-5, full time working week. Particularly in large, multinational companies, the ability to work across different time zones for different projects is invaluable, so flexibility in terms of hours and working days is crucial to many sectors.
Furthermore, this day could free up time to allow people to follow passion projects that may not bring in enough to transfer it into a full-time role but could contribute a significant proportion of money to the economy. Many are swapping to freelance and flexible working, particularly highly skilled professionals, because they are able to demand a greater day rate and have more time for a better work-life balance.
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