UK companies to trial four-day working week

Employees will maintain full pay in exchange for 80 per cent of their time

A number of British businesses are set to trial a four-day working week, which will see staff members maintain full wages for less hours. If the pilot scheme is successful, it could open the door for a shorter week for millions of employees. Photographer: Hollie Adams / Bloomberg

A number of British companies are set to trial a four-day working week as part of a pilot programme to see whether staff can produce the same results while on less hours.

The initiative, which is growing in popularity across the globe, is based on the 100:80:100 model. Workers maintain 100 per cent of their pay in exchange for 80 per cent of their time and a commitment to give at least 100 per cent productivity.

If successful, the trial could pave the way for a contracted working week for millions of people across the UK.

The UAE recently swapped its Sunday to Thursday working week for a 4.5 day schedule operating Monday to Friday, which allows people to leave early for Friday prayers.

Dubai, UAE - December 21, 2009 - Bankers leaving a lending meeting between bankers and Dubai World at the Dubai World Trade Centre Exhibition Centre. (Nicole Hill / The National) *** Local Caption ***  NH BANK04.jpg

The Gulf state is seeking to strengthen its appeal to tourists and businesses as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The trial in Britain is being organised by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with leading think tank Autonomy and the 4 Day Week UK Campaign. Researchers at Cambridge University and Oxford University in the UK and at Boston College in the US have also been brought on board.

Staff at Canon Medical Research’s office in Edinburgh, Scotland, are among those taking part.

So far, six companies have signed up for the pilot, scheduled to start in June. Researchers hope to bring up to 30 firms on board before then.

The scheme will run parallel with similar programmes led by 4 Day Week Global in Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The governments of Scotland and Spain have launched their own trials.

Researchers will closely monitor the results and examine whether staff are maintaining the same level of output on a shorter timeline.

The impact on the environment and gender equality will also be assessed.

Camera giant Canon said 140 employees at its Edinburgh plant, where medical and intelligence software is developed, will take part.

Ken Sutherland, the president of Canon Medical Research Europe, said the pandemic had “substantially” changed people's working patterns and their appreciation for work-life balance. He said the firm is exploring ways to adapt to the changing environment going forward.

Updated: January 18, 2022, 12:39 PM