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Jessica Piper, from Ashtons Legal, looks at a pilot scheme testing shorter hours

Seventy companies across the UK from different sectors are now taking part in a four-day working week pilot.

The research comes as businesses face unprecedented change in the way people want to work post-pandemic, with flexible working applications also on the rise.

The trial, which started on June 6, is being conducted by 4 Day Week UK Campaign alongside researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.

Jessica Piper (57347849)
Jessica Piper (57347849)

The purpose of the scheme is to determine whether a four-day week improves the mental and physical well-being of employees during this period. The scheme will run for a period of six months.

Staff will only work four days a week rather than typically five, yet remain paid in full. Generally, businesses will vary which days staff members are allowed to take off to ensure coverage of services across the traditional working week.

Positive results could lead to a number of business leaders adopting a new approach to how their workforce works.


So, what are the advantages of a four-day work week?

Productivity: Research has shown by having flexible working people can be more productive.

Brand image: Engaging in a four-day week may demonstrate that the employer is forward thinking.

Gender equality: Opportunities for parents to spread the childcare responsibilities more evenly.

Green benefits: A reduced carbon footprint as a result of a decreased commute to work.

And the disadvantages?

Risk of burnout: Compressed hours, increased pressure, more time at the desk, taking fewer breaks.

Divisive: Resentment if it is felt that some colleagues are pulling their weight more than others.

Industry specific: A reduction in income or productivity in some sectors.

Flexible working: Other flexible working options not considered.

-- Jessica Piper is an employment law specialist at Ashtons Legal

-- Contact her on jessica.piper@ashtonslegal.co.uk