Work less, live more: 10 arguments for a shorter working week


The additional financial institution vacation within the UK to mark the Queen’s jubilee has invariably led to requires it to be made everlasting. 

There are often eight public holidays annually in England and Wales (Scotland will get 9, Northern Eire 10), which is a bit stingy in comparison with different nations. Finland will get 12, one for each month.

However whereas the talk round additional financial institution holidays rumbles on, some nations (and ahead pondering corporations) are rendering the dialog irrelevant – by making four-day weeks the norm.

Working fewer hours on full pay would possibly sound too good to be true, however for some staff within the UK that’s about to change into a actuality.

A pilot project to assess the merits of a shorter working week is about to launch there this summer time. Corporations are being invited to participate within the experiment, which will probably be run by lecturers on the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Canon is among the many corporations to have signed up.

The pandemic has compelled many people to reassess our relationship with work, and prompted a rising variety of international locations to flirt with a four-day week.   

Spain is main the cost. Its government is trialling the idea with corporations focused on altering issues up. “With the four-day work week, we’re launching into the actual debate of our instances,” mentioned Iñigo Errejón of the leftwing Más País celebration, which proposed the thought. “It’s an concept whose time has come.”

Scotland has additionally pledged a trial, whereas some firms have launched their very own pilots. Unilever, a multinational shopper items firm, amongst them. 

Dutch creator Rutger Bregman is one advocate of a shorter working week. “For a few of us, the road is blurred between work and what we love, so our lives wouldn’t change a lot,” he told Positive News. “However for a lot of, there’s a clear distinction between what’s work and the remainder of life. I believe we have to work much less in sure jobs as a way to do extra of what issues and what’s significant and essential to society.”

With the four-day work week, we’re launching into the actual debate of our instances

Working fewer hours doesn’t essentially equate to a discount in productiveness. In actual fact, in response to a 2017 trial of a six-hour working day in Sweden, the alternative is true. Regardless of failing to persuade everybody, these behind the Swedish trial claimed that its advantages outweighed the prices.

Daniel Bernmar, a politician who helped deliver in regards to the experiment at a retirement house in Gothenburg, advised Constructive Information that the outcomes introduced “the exact opposite narrative of the necessity to work extra and to work more durable”.

The New Economics Basis (NEF) has lengthy supported the idea of shorter working weeks. Right here, principal fellow on the thinktank, Anna Coote, suggests 10 explanation why it may very well be good for society.

1. A smaller carbon footprint

International locations with shorter common hours are likely to have a smaller ecological footprint. As a nation, the UK is presently consuming effectively past its share of pure useful resource. Transferring out of the quick lane would take us away from the convenience-led consumption that’s damaging our surroundings, and depart time for residing extra sustainably.

2. A stronger economic system

If dealt with correctly, a transfer in the direction of a shorter working week would enhance social and financial equality, easing our dependence on debt-fuelled development – key substances of a strong economic system. It will be aggressive, too: the Netherlands and Germany have shorter work weeks than Britain and the US, but their economies are as robust or stronger.

3. Higher staff

Those that work much less are usually extra productive hour-for-hour than these frequently pushing themselves past the 40 hours per week level. They’re much less vulnerable to illness and absenteeism and make up a extra secure and dedicated workforce.

4. Decrease unemployment

Common working hours might have spiralled, however they don’t seem to be unfold equally throughout our economic system – simply as some discover themselves working all hours of the day and evening, others battle to seek out work in any respect. A shorter working week would assist to redistribute paid and unpaid time extra evenly throughout the inhabitants.

5. Improved wellbeing

Giving everyone extra time to spend as they select would enormously scale back stress ranges and enhance general wellbeing, in addition to psychological and bodily well being. Working much less would assist us all transfer away from the present path of residing to work, working to earn and incomes to devour. It will assist us all to replicate on and recognize the issues that we really worth in life.

6. Extra equality between women and men

Girls presently spend extra time than males doing unpaid work. Transferring in the direction of a shorter working week because the ‘norm’ would assist change attitudes about gender roles, promote extra equal shares of paid and unpaid work, and assist revalue jobs historically related to girls’s work.

7. Increased high quality, reasonably priced childcare

The excessive demand for childcare stems partly from a tradition of lengthy working hours which has spiralled uncontrolled. A shorter working week would assist moms and dads higher steadiness their time, lowering the prices of full-time childcare. In addition to bringing down the price of childcare, working fewer hours would give dad and mom extra time to spend with their kids. This chance for extra actions, experiences and two-way educating and studying would have advantages for moms and dads, in addition to their kids.

8. Extra time for households, buddies and neighbours

Spending much less time in paid work would allow us to spend extra time with and look after one another – our dad and mom, kids, buddies and neighbours – and to worth and strengthen all of the relationships that make our lives worthwhile and assist to construct a stronger society.

9. Making extra of later life

A shorter and extra versatile working week may make the transition from employment to retirement a lot smoother, unfold over an extended time period. Individuals may scale back their hours progressively over a decade or extra. Shifting all of a sudden from lengthy hours to no hours of paid work may be traumatic, usually inflicting sickness and early dying.

10. A stronger democracy

We’d all have extra time to take part in native actions, to seek out out what’s occurring round us, to have interaction in politics, regionally and nationally, to ask questions and to marketing campaign for change.

That is an replace of an article initially printed on 19 April 2017. The unique model of the ten causes part of this text was first printed by the New Economics Foundation.

Foremost picture: Alistair Macrobert

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