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What are the pros and cons of a four day week?
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Four day weeks can help companies survive and save jobs

Covid has caused widespread economic disruption, causing a dip in profits, leading to job losses. A four day week may save companies from having to take such drastic measures to survive.

The Argument

The five day working week is a relatively recent development. In the 1930s a two day weekend was introduced to cut job losses. Just under 100 years later, we are faced with the same predicament. The pandemic has caused many job losses, and many companies have administered pay cuts. A way of tackling this is to create a four day working well. It is suggested that a four day working week will have the impact of creating half a million new jobs in the public sector alone in the UK, according to a thinktank, Autonomy.[1] Whilst cutting salaries, and the UK's furlough scheme may be a temporary solution, a transition into a four day week would save many companies from having to close down. The Labour Party had also sought to implement this according to their 2019 manifesto. A model to be considered is Germany's Kuzarbeit (short-work) scheme, implemented in the wake of the 2008 recession. This model was inspired by Margaret Thatcher's scheme back in the 1980's. The government subsidised the pay cut of many employees to avoid mass unemployment. The same scheme has been rolled out during the pandemic to help avoid job losses in Germany. [2]

Counter arguments

When the UK's Labour Party set out proposals for a four day week in their manifesto in 2019, it faced a lot of criticism from politicians in opposing parties and businesses. It was argued that if the proposals sought to introduce a four day working week, but did not reduce the pay, then businesses would end up having to pay 20-25% more for less productivity. If the position was that people take pay cuts and do a four day week, it was argued that this would negatively affect the poorest in society as they would benefit from less income. Additionally, it would hamper people's abilities in gaining opportunities. [3] The idea was again entertained by a cross-party group of MPs in June 2020, urging the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to consider the proposal. There is no movement on the position.[4] A government spokesperson suggested that for private companies, it was not for the government to dictate working patterns, and the civil service already has flexible working patterns.[5]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Sunday, 1 Nov 2020 at 21:17 UTC

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