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Howells Legal: are we heading towards a three-day week?

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: August 12, 2014

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A four-day weekend is something many of us dream about, but could it soon become a reality?

Carlos Slim, allegedly the richest man in the world, has raised eyebrows recently by suggesting employers should introduce a three-day working week, claiming that working fewer days would create a happier, more efficient workforce with a higher quality of life. The idea being that we would work 11 hours per day for 3 days, before having 4 leisure days by way of reward. The flip side of this extra time off is that we would be expected to work on until our mid-seventies to make up for the reduced average hours worked per week.

The idea of reducing working hours is not a new one; it’s actually the continuation of a trend that began after the industrial revolution. It was Henry Ford that created the modern five-day week back in the 1920’s. Modern technology has now made it possible for many workers to perform their role from home or on the move, meaning there’s often no need to work set hours at a static location.

Whether or not you are able to work flexibly will invariably depend on your role/employers’ flexibility/external commitments as well as those jobs with health and safety implications. In fact, a recent report indicated that for certain roles, productivity can actually fall as the number of hours worked increases.

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Ultimately, whether or not the three-day week becomes a reality will depend on the attitude of businesses and workers towards flexible working. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group actively encourages its employees to work “when, where and how they like, in order to get the best results possible.” Whether or not flexible working is achievable will very much depend upon the organisation you work for.

One thing’s for sure, with the increased use of implementing a diverse range of flexible working arrangements, such as job sharing, flexi-time and working from home, and many of us already working well into our sixties and seventies, a four-day weekend theory isn’t as crazy as is first thought.

Luke Welsh is Head of Employment and Solicitor at Howells Solicitors, and advises both employees and businesses. Luke can be contacted on 01792 410016 or luke.w@howellslegal.com.

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