Some frequently asked questions about the four-day week and how to get there.

What is a four-day week?

The four-day week is a 32-hour working week (or less) worked over four days with no reduction in pay for workers that have switched from working five days a week.

Does working a standard working week (40 hours) over four days instead of five count as a four-day week?

No this is not a four-day week. This is a five day week with compressed hours resulting in four very long work days. This is not what we’re campaigning for.

Is a four-day week realistic?

Yes the four-day week is 100% realistic. Many companies across the world have already switched to a four-day work week with successful outcomes for employers and employees.

Is it difficult to implement a four-day week?

The best implementations of the four-day week are well planned and involve a thorough consultation with staff beforehand. It is easier to implement in some sectors of the economy compared to others but is possible across the entire economy in the longer-term. For advice on implementation see here.

How would it work for schools and the NHS?

Schools and hospitals would remain open 5 days a week but shift and rota work patterns would need to be smartly organised so that teachers and NHS staff can work a four-day week with a mix of different days off. A limited number of additional teachers and NHS workers would need to be hired, which has been costed by the think tank Autonomy here.

How would it work for the construction and manufacturing industries?

Rota and shift patterns would have to be re-organised and there may be some additional staff that would need to be hired in the shorter-term. However, as a result of workers getting more rest and therefore being in better physical shape, productivity would likely go up in the longer-term.
Construction work can be one of the hardest jobs in terms of physical impact so there is a strong argument for a four-day week in the industry to protect workers from injury and physical-ill health.

What happens to employees' hours/salary where they are already working part-time but the rest of the organisation is moving to a four-day week?

The most important thing is to speak to everyone and come to a solution which works for as many people as possible, but there are four basic options available:

  • Increase the pay of staff on part time hours to adjust for hourly increases in pay the reduction in working time would result in
  • Reduce the hours of people working part time in line with reductions everyone else is going through
  • Adjust annual leave entitlement to recognise the large uplift created by a four-day week
  • A combination of the above.

How does a four-day week apply to the self-employed and those on zero hours contracts?

Many self-employed people already have the freedom to choose to take a four-day week. However, for the self-employed and zero hours contract workers on low-incomes that can't afford to take home less pay on a four-day week we need to see wider policy changes implemented across the economy. For example; a higher living wage, a ban on zero hours contracts and an extension of workers rights. Ultimately, implementing a four-day week with no loss in pay across PAYE sectors will put upwards pressure on legally and socially accepted wages in all sectors.

How would it work for the service economy where a business has to be open for customers at least 5 days a week?

Beyond re-organising shift and rota work patterns, some organisations may find that they have to hire a limited number of additional staff. To cover this cost, we're calling for a National Level Subsidy to be introduced by the Government in the same way that the German Government's Kurzarbeit scheme works by subsidising workers’ to have an extra day off – which in turn creates more employment.

What happens with holiday allowances?

It tends to be the case that during a trial period holiday allowances stay the same. However when implemented permanently, it's expected that holiday allowances would be reduced in line with the overall reduction in working hours. For example, for those dropping down from a full-time 5 day week to a four-day week, they would see their holiday allowance reduced by 20%. This is seen as a fair option given that workers will be getting an extra day off each week with no reduction in pay.

For more detail, see our advice for employers and advice for workers pages.