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A third of businesses expect the four-day week to become a reality in the next ten years, new research shows

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead Burton

New CIPD research shows that a third of respondent organisations (34%) think the four-day week will become a reality in the UK for most workers within the next ten years. However, only a small minority of firms have moved towards the four-day week to date by reducing hours without reducing pay for their employees, or plan to do this over the next three years.

One in ten (10%) organisations report they have reduced working hours without reducing pay for the whole or a significant part of their workforce over the last five years, although of these, under half of employers (42%) did so as a result of the furlough scheme.

Just 1% of organisations that have not reduced hours without reducing pay for staff plan to do so in the next three years. A majority of employers though, believe that a shift to a four-day week without reducing pay would depend on their organisation improving their efficiency and working smarter (66%) or firms boosting their adoption of technology (68%).

These are the key findings of a new report Four Day Week – employer perspectives of moving to a four-day week. The analysis is based on a survey of 2,000 employers and ONS Labour Force Survey data on people’s working hours.  It’s published amid rising interest in the idea of a four-day week due to the launch earlier this year of a major trial in the UK, involving 70 companies who are experimenting with reducing working hours without reducing pay.

The report also finds:

Among organisations that have reduced working hours, the main drivers were to increase employee well-being (36%), decreased demand for products or services (32%), or to help with recruitment and retention (30%).

Just 1% of employers plan to reduce working hours without reducing pay, showing that change won’t happen on a large scale quickly

16% of employers have reduced working hours in the last five years, with 10% reducing hours without cutting pay, although in almost half (47%) of the cases the reduction in hours was due to the furlough scheme

The biggest challenges for firms that had reduced hours were that new ways of working did not suit everybody in their organisation (32%), they were unable to achieve the same volume of work/outputs as before (30%) and that the task required someone to be present (26%).

31% of workers say they would like to work fewer hours, but only 11% are willing to take a pay cut to achieve this

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