November 15, 2020

Open Letter to World Leaders

​Dear Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President Elect Joe Biden, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and First Minister Mark Drakeford,

 

We’re writing from the UK, the US, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, Ireland and Wales as an international coalition of politicians, trade union leaders, business leaders, academics and campaigners demanding shorter working hours as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Throughout history, shorter working hours have been used during times of crisis and economic recession as a way of sharing work more equally across the economy between the unemployed and the overemployed. We believe they should be deployed again now to help deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic.

 

Across the world, people are reimagining a better future post Covid-19 and overwhelmingly they want a better work-life balance. Since the introduction of the weekend and the 8 hour day after the Great Depression in the 1930s, working hours continued to gradually decrease until around the 1980s. Since then the reduction in working hours has stalled.

 

Despite promises, huge technological advances and automation have not ushered in a new era of more free time. 

 

For the advancement of civilisation and the good society, now is the moment to seize the opportunity and move towards shorter working hours with no loss of pay. We need to get economies working to improve people’s lives, rather than people simply working to improve the economy. 

 

We have been encouraged by comments made by Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, speaking in favour of a four day working week and we note that both the Scottish and Welsh Government’s have set up Commission’s to explore the proposal further. There have also been positive trials in Finland and Iceland, and the Valencian Government in Spain have recently backed a four day week.

 

Shorter working hours would not only be good for the economy, but they are going to be crucial for boosting mental health and tackling climate change. A four day week would signal a critical shift in the design of our economies towards the wellbeing of people and nature, as we prioritise the urgent need to bring down carbon emissions to safe levels.

 

We stand at a critical moment in time, amidst political, economic and environmental crises. Rebuilding economies offers an opportunity to affect much-needed change to the lives of billions of people, but the move to shorter working hours will only happen with the support of Government’s working alongside trade unions and businesses.

 

We stand on the shoulder of giants who campaigned for the introduction of the weekend and the 40 hour week. Our world would be immeasurably better, fairer and happier with more free time and we urge you to seize the moment.

 

Kind regards,

 

Joe Ryle - 4 Day Week Campaign (UK)

Jon Steinman - 4 Day Week US

Mark Hooper - 4 Day Week Cymru (Wales)

Joe O’Connor - Four Day Week Ireland

María Álvarez - Campaña 4 Suma: por la semana laboral de 4 días (Spain)

John McDonnell - Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington & former Shadow Chancellor (UK)

Katja Kipping - Chairwoman of Die Linke (Germany)

Iñigo Errejón - Más País MP at the Spanish Parliament

Sophie Howe - Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

Len McCluskey - Unite General Secretary (UK)

Mark Serwotka - PCS General Secretary (UK)

Dave Ward - General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union (UK)

Caroline Lucas - Green MP for Brighton Pavilion (UK)

Clive Lewis - Labour MP for Norwich South (UK)

Inés Sabanes - Equo MP at the Spanish Parliament

Mónica Oltra - Vice-president and Minister for Equality and Inclusive Policies of the Valencian Government (Spain)

Joan Baldoví - Compromís MP at the Spanish Parliament

Carles Mulet - Compromís MP at the Spanish Senate

David Adler - Chair of the Coalition for a Green New Deal for Europe

Andrew Barnes – Architect of 4 Day Week Global and founder of Perpetual Guardian (NZ)

Charlotte Lockhart – CEO of 4 Day Week Global (NZ)

Philipp Frey - Zentrum Emanzipatorische Technikforschung (Germany)

Margareta Steinrücke - Attac AG Arbeitfairteilen (Germany)

Guðmundur D. Haraldsson, Alda -- Association for Sustainable Democracy (Iceland)

Will Stronge - Director of Research at Autonomy (UK)

Aidan Harper - New Economics Foundation (UK)

October 08, 2020

Burnout Britain

A new report from the campaign explores how overwork and unemployment is affecting the nation's mental health.

Joe Ryle, a campaigner with the 4 Day Week Campaign, said:

 

“It’s extremely concerning that overall the shift to working remotely has resulted in workers doing more hours and not less.

 

“This country desperately needs a four-day working week to rebalance the economy, boost mental health and give people more time to spend doing the things they love.”

 

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said:

 

“During these challenging times we encourage employers to support staff wellbeing and one way of doing this is by offering flexible working, this could include flexible start and finish times or for some could include working four days a week / or exploring job share roles.

 

“As we try and manage our lives around Covid 19 employers could take forward more measures such as working from home or different hours to suit people’s lives.”

 

Alison Pay, Managing Director of Mental Health at Work, said:

 

“The global pandemic has brought flexibility to the workplace on a scale hitherto unimaginable; but with it has come an increase in working hours and merging of boundaries between home and work and we know these factors contribute to mental health issues.  

 

“At Mental Health at Work we ask organisations to consider what workplace adjustments are available to them and how this can be implemented to support employee mental health.  A shorter working week is one of those adjustments, benefitting the individual, their family and the organisation, whilst as a minimum maintaining employee engagement and productivity.”
 

 

Lisa Cameron MP, SNP Spokesperson for Mental Health, said:

 

"This report shows us that it’s very important as a society to strive for a work life balance that makes economic sense for business and employees too.

 

"The four day working week has emerged in recent months as a potential avenue for flexible working across the economy which is why the Scottish Government has set up a commission to explore the possibility further in Scotland."

 

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said:

 

“For much of the 19th and 20th century the ravages and toll work has had on the human body have long been known and campaigned on. This report now adds to the growing body of evidence that in the 21st century it is our very minds that are under assault. The 24/7 consumer economy has now been joined by the 24/7 work environment. Literally overnight  the Covid pandemic has turned our homes into workplaces, our bedrooms into offices. There is no respite. It can be no coincidence that only the areas of agriculture, forestry and mining have escaped this trend. Disconnected, remote and close to nature  - they are now some of the few working refuges from the mental health onslaught the rest of us are facing. Already our public mental health care systems are creaking and failing, picking up as they do on the symptoms not the cause. And yet we know there are practical answers to the stress and anxiety - such as introducing a four-day week. A four-day week can help us reduce stress, consumption and in so doing protect us  and the planet. A win-win outcome.”

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:

“The Covid crisis makes this absolutely the time to take a step back and think what kind of society, what kind of economy, do we want? Millions face losing their jobs and livelihoods, yet we know our long-hours work culture takes a huge toll on people’s health and well-being.  When combined with growing automation, it makes complete sense for the available work to be shared more fairly.  


"A four-day week would free people up to contribute to our society and communities in the many positive ways which make our society work, but isn’t measured or properly valued in the way it should be.”  
 
Baroness Ruth Lister, said
 
"A shorter working week is pivotal to a gendered politics of time.  The pamphlet demonstrates its importance and its proposal for a Working Time Commission offers a practical first step that progressive parties could get behind now even if the UK government rejects it."

October 05, 2020

Campaign Update

It’s been another busy month for the 4 Day Week Campaign. 

Here's a rundown of everything we've been up to.

 

New report: the public sector as a pioneer for the four day week

 

We worked with the think-tank Autonomy on the press launch of their latest report.  The report showed how a four day week in the public sector could create up to 500,000 new jobs and help limit the rise in unemployment caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. The report was given as an exclusive to Larry Elliott at The Guardian and was then picked up by most other newspapers.

 

New polling: 79% of business leaders are open to a four day week

 

We commissioned new polling into support for a four day week from business leaders. 

To our surprise, an overwhelming 79% of business leaders said they are open to a four day week. Read about it here.

 

Shorter Working Time Subsidy Scheme

 

We campaigned alongside others for the government to introduce a shorter working hours scheme after furloughing comes to an end. While we welcome the Government exploring shorter working hours as a solution to the current crisis, unfortunately, the design of Rishi Sunak's new Jobs Support Scheme has some critical flaws. It leaves workers with a significant shortfall in pay while failing to incentivise businesses to keep staff on at reduced hours rather than reducing the number of employees. It is likely that for certain higher-skilled workers, the cost of rehiring down the line may save a few jobs, but it is certainly not the lifeline the economy needs and leaves those that most need protection, the most exposed. We see this as a missed opportunity to both protect the economy in a time of crisis and to further the cause of shorter working hours, and will be campaigning for the government to amend the design of the scheme.

 

Online Public Meeting

 

Earlier this month we hosted an online public meeting which asked the question: has the time come for a four day week? The event was attended by over 100 people on Zoom and we heard from Andy McDonald MP (Labour's Shadow Employment Rights Secretary), Clive Lewis MP, Grace Blakeley, Will Stronge, Kate Bell from the TUC and Mary-Ann Stephenson from the Women's Budget Group. You can read a write up of the event here on Labour List.

 

Letter to the Guardian

 

We coordinated a letter to The Guardian from businesses that have moved to a four day week post Covid-19. In the letter, the businesses say:

 

"Many of us are still in the early days of making the change, but so far it’s been a huge success. Every single week, we have achieved our targets, productivity has been boosted and staff are loving their four-day week.

"We’re now calling on the rest of the business community to follow suit and move to a four-day working week."

 

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August 10, 2020

A Busy Month...

It’s been a busy month for the 4 Day Week Campaign. We launched our first-ever Crowdfunder  and, with two days still left to donate, we wanted to let you know everything else we’ve been up to:

 

Time for Change: Autonomy’s new report

 

We worked with the think-tank Autonomy on the press launch of their new report.  The report proposes a Shorter Working Time Subsidy Scheme which would replace the current furlough scheme by allowing companies to reduce employees hours, with the Government making up the drop in wages.  This would support the economy through the Covid crisis and help transition to a four-day working week. The report was covered by the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, The Metro and we secured a comment piece in the Times.

 

Meeting with the Treasury

 

We worked with Clive Lewis MP to submit a question to the Chancellor at Treasury Questions about the government exploring a four day week. Treasury Minister Kemi Badenoch surprised us all by agreeing to a meeting.

 

At that meeting, Clive put forward all the benefits of a four-day week as well as  Autonomy’s proposal for the Shorter Working Time Subsidy Scheme.

 

Kemi agreed to a continued dialogue with Clive and the campaign and asked to read a full copy of the Autonomy report. Watch this space!


 

New polling in the Sunday Mirror

 

We commissioned new polling into how people would spend their extra free time if everyone moved over to a four day week, which was covered in the Sunday Mirror. The most popular response - by a clear margin - was spending more time with family. 

 

53% of those surveyed said they would spend more time with family, 39% picked recuperation and rest, 38% socialising with friends, 36% exercise and in a boost to the UK tourism sector, 30% said they would go on more short holidays in the UK.

 

Early Day Motion

 

We worked with MPs on the launch of an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling on the Government to set up a commission to consider a range of options and models in relation to shorter working times. After a lot of lobbying work, we’re very pleased that 43 MPs from Labour, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the SDLP have now signed up.

 

Further Research

 

Working alongside various organisations, three further pieces of research are currently underway in relation to moving to a four day week. These pieces of work will explore mental health, the environment and a four day week in the public sector.

July 15, 2020

Make the 4-Day Week a Reality

Campaign Launches Crowdfunder

We stand a critical moment in time, amidst political and economic crises. Rebuilding our economy to be fairer and more equitable will bring about much-needed change to the lives of millions of people, but this will only happen by maintaining political pressure.
 

We have a plan to make a four day week a reality, with your help we will step up our campaigning work by:

  • Paying for a Campaigns Officer for the next three months (£5500)

  • Producing original polling and research that supports the case for a shorter working week. (£2500)

  • Producing video content and running a major advertising campaign on public transport that raises public awareness of the benefits of reduced working hours. (£2500)

July 02, 2020

New Polling on the Four-Day Week

42 cross-party MPs back four-day week as new polling shows two thirds of the public want government to explore introducing it

42 cross-party MPs are backing a four-day working week as new polling by Survation shows that two-thirds of the British public, including 57% of Conservative voters, want the government to explore introducing it.

 

The polling, commissioned by the think-tank Autonomy, asked the public: “to what extent would you support or oppose the government exploring the introduction of a four-day working week?”

 

The new polling suggests there is significant support for a four-day working week with no reduction in pay for workers (except for the highest earners), as one way of recovering from the impact of COVID-19 and to create a better future as we come out the other side.

 

57% of Conservative voters at the 2019 General Election also support the government exploring a four-day week.

 

The polling comes as 42 cross-party MPs from Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the SDLP and the Green Party have signed an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to set up a commission to consider the proposal.

 

The Scottish and Welsh Governments are both examining a four-day week and Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has spoken about the four-day week as a key way in which New Zealand’s economy can recover from the crisis.

 

Will Stronge, Director of Research for Autonomy, said:

 

“The research demonstrates that a shorter working week is beneficial to the environment, to our wellbeing and to staff performance in businesses. It’s a ‘multi-dividend’ policy. 

 

“The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the inadequacies of our labour market and has hit those on low incomes in stressful, key worker jobs hardest. A fairer, post-COVID economy that benefits workers is the right thing to do and shorter working hours with no reduction in pay should be part of that.”

 

Joe Ryle, a campaigner with the 4 Day Week Campaign, said:

 

“The four-day week is an idea that is gaining momentum across the world right now because people are reimagining a better future for themselves post COVID-19.

 

“A four-day working week is a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t we want to be happier, healthier and at the same time - more productive at work?”

June 19, 2020

Open Letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer

Dear Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP,

 

We are writing to you to request that the government consider exploring shorter working time for the UK, including a four-day working week, as one route out of the Coronavirus pandemic.
 

Work patterns have already been dramatically altered as a result of the pandemic and we believe the time is now right to explore putting a four-day, 30-hour working week (or any equivalent variation) front and centre – including protections for those on low incomes - as the country unites behind building back better out of this crisis.
 

Three quarters of UK workers already supported a four-day working week before the Coronavirus pandemic hit and millions of workers have now had a taste of working remotely and on different hours. It's in no one's interests to return back to the pressure and stress that people were under before this pandemic.

We know that more than half of UK workers are unhappy in their jobs and more than two thirds are stressed or overworked. According to the Health and Safety Executive, one in four of all sick days lost are the direct result of overwork.  

 

A four-day week would bring multiple benefits to society, the environment, our democracy, and our economy (through increased productivity). One of the biggest impacts would be better mental health and wellbeing across the board with more time available for socialising, family life and community.

 

Furthermore, with an unemployment crisis on the horizon, shorter working time presents itself as one of the best options for fundamentally restructuring the economy so that work is shared more equally. A four-day week would give many more opportunities to the growing list of unemployed people which already stands at 2.8 million people.

 

Shorter working time has been used throughout history as a way of responding to economic crises. They were used as a way of reducing unemployment during the Great Depression of the 1930s, which led to the normalisation of the eight-hour day and the 40-hour week. Shorter working time should once again be seen as a powerful tool to recover from this crisis. Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister has already spoken about the four-day week as a key way in which New Zealand’s economy can recover from the crisis.

 

As you will be aware, the Scottish Government announced in May a new Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission which will explore the potential for a four-day working week. We're urging your government to show the same commitment towards a better future for the UK by setting up a similar commission - looking at the range of options and models related to shorter working time which the UK could deploy.

 

We're very keen to work with you on this and look forward to hearing your response.

 

Kind regards,

 

Aidan Harper, 4 Day Week Campaign

Will Stronge, Autonomy

Mary-Ann Stephenson, Women's Budget Group

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington

Mhairi Black, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion

Jon Trickett, Labour MP for Hemsworth

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South

Ian Lavery, Labour MP for Wansbeck

Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South

Kate Osborne, Labour MP for Jarrow

Ian Bryne, Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby

Claudia Webbe, Labour MP for Leicester East

Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Human Geography at Oxford University

Neal Lawson, Director of Compass

Faiza Shaheen, Director of Class

Dave Ward, General Secretary of the CWU

Ian Waddell, General Secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions

Owen Jones, Guardian

David Graeber, Anthropology Professor at The London School of Economics

Deborah Hermanns, Project Manager Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung GB (personal capacity)

Mark Hooper, founder of IndyCube

September 22, 2019

Victory for the 4-Day Week Campaign!

Labour adopt radical plan for 32-hour week with no reduction in pay within 10 years in response to calls from the Campaign, trade unions, and party members.

The Party has voted to implement a series of measures to move the country towards a 32-hour week within a decade. These measures include a gradual increase in bank holidays, strengthened trade unions, and limits on maximum hours of working time.

 

The Campaign enthusiastically welcomes these concrete proposals which will help to address the crisis of overwork and ensure that the gains of the economy – especially in relation to new forms of automation – are shared fairly with workers in the form of more leisure time. This decision follows a positive response to a report released by the Campaign earlier in the year.

 

 

Statement from the campaign:

 

Moving to a four-day week will drastically improve the lives of people up and down the country by giving them back the time to spend with their communities, their friends, their families and their loved ones. This is the boldest attempt to transform and improve people’s lives in a century.

 

For press enquiries please contact:

Aidan Harper

07914657598

May 18, 2019

We were disappointed to hear that the Wellcome Trust abandoned its plans to trial a 4 day week. A reduction of working hours implemented at such a large and prestigious organisation would provide an inspiring example to other companies looking to make a change, and we believe they’ve missed an opportunity to create a happier, healthier and fairer workplace.

Momentum backing grassroots campaigns including the four-day week @Labour4DayWeek and a Green New Deal @LabGND – driving Labour’s radical agenda to be even more ambitious.

Labour members formed a Labour 4 Day Week group to push the demand within Labour for a reduction of working time without loss of pay.

The Wellcome Trust has scrapped plans to trial a four-day week for its 800 head office staff , saying it would be “too operationally complex to implement" and unfair on some staff.

Click here to read our statement in reaction to this announcement.

March 05, 2019

The Scotsman

A vote will be held at next month’s SNP conference on whether Scotland should adopt a four-day working week.

January 18, 2019

Wellcome Trust could become first big employer to launch four-day week

The Wellcome Trust is considering moving all of its 800 head office staff to a four-day week in a bid to boost productivity and improve work-life balance. A trial of the new working week could start as soon as this autumn, giving workers Fridays off with no reduction in pay.

October 06, 2018

The shadow chancellor said Labour will “look at the working week” as part of an examination of working practices ahead of drawing up the party's manifesto for the 2022 election.

October 03, 2018

The Green party announced it would make free time a key measure of UK wellbeing - replacing GDP as a barometer of economic progress.

Around 120,000 Royal Mail workers won a one-hour reduction or equivalent benefit to their working week. This reduction, is the first stage of a scheduled flight path from 39-hour to a 35-hour working week to anticipate the impact of the fourth industrial revolution in respect of new technologies and protect jobs whilst also protecting public service.

September 09, 2018

TUC is using its annual conference to call on the government to take action to help people work less but get paid the same.

Paddy Bettington looks at how technology shapes the nature of work and the impact of longer hours on the job market. He argues that we need to build stronger notions of collectivism, and that this could start with a focus on reducing working hours.

AlJazeera

Jason Hickel argues that the growth-driven economic model we have adopted is killing our planet and that a shorter working week is part of the solution.

March 28, 2018

Perpetual Guardian is trialing four-day working weeks for its staff, while still paying them for five. If successful, the four-day week will be implemented for staff indefinitely.  CEO Andrew Barnes said the experiment had potential implications for everything from work/life balance to the gender pay gap and the mental well-being of workers.

March 14, 2018

Aidan Haper explains his vision for a new work/life settlement.

You can also listen to him reading and discussing his piece Robots are going to make England’s north-south divide even worse - that's why we need the four day work week, with Kirsty Major.

February 07, 2018

German workers won a key victory in their fight for a better work-life balance when a big employers’ group agreed to demands from the country’s largest trade union for the introduction of a 28-hour working week.

January 19, 2018

The Guardian - long read

Work has ruled our lives for centuries, and it does so today more than ever. But a new generation of thinkers insists there is an alternative. 

BBC Victoria Derbyshire

The analysis given exclusively to this programme by the workers' union the TUC, has found one in eight of us are working over 48 hours a week, something they warn can have a severe impact on our health.

        Reporter Michael Cowan has been to meet the companies pioneering new approaches to improve the work-life balance.

January 08, 2018

German workers strike for 28-hour week

More than 15,000 workers down tools at 80 companies as part of metalwork union’s campaign to improve work-life balance.

Huffington Post

Aidan Harper discusses the history of our 5 day week, issues of productivity and 4 key arguments for a shorter working week.

Open Democracy

Work is currently undergoing a complex and multifaceted crisis. In order address these challenges we need to radically rethink the way that work — both waged and unwaged — is distributed, the role that work should play in society, and the response to automation and the threat of mass unemployment.

The Independent

Jeremy Corbyn said that the new economy could be a “gateway to a new settlement between work and leisure”.

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