23 March 2023
The Australian Services Union has secured an agreement with Oxfam Australia to introduce a four-day, 30-hour working week at full-time pay – the first such arrangement affecting full-time employees in Australia to be formalised within an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
Oxfam, which has 97 full-time and 37 part-time employees in Australia, of which about 90 are permanent, has committed to a six-month pilot as part of its latest negotiations with the Union.
According to the agreement, permanent full-time employees working 35 hours per week can choose to have their weekly hours and entitlements varied to 30 hours per week over four days without any loss of pay.
Permanent part-time employees will have their working hours and entitlements pro-rated against a full-time load of 30 hours.
ASU Victorian Private Sector Branch secretary Imogen Sturni said the four-day, 30-hour Work Week Trial was a significant win for both the workers and the company.
“It is pleasing to see Oxfam publicly recognising that productivity comes in different forms and that work-life balance is essential for workers mental and physical health,” Ms Sturni said
“When a worker is well supported and has the flexibility at work that they need in order to keep up with the varying demands in their lives, they actually perform better in their jobs.
“This agreement also acknowledges the caring responsibilities that many workers, usually women but not always, have outside of work.
“A four-day 30-hour work week is a win-win for Oxfam and its staff.”
The trial will be subject to a Terms of Reference prepared by Oxfam and will be reviewed throughout to assess if the arrangement supports both Oxfam’s and its employees’ preferred way of working; supports employees’ work life balance, and mental and physical wellbeing; and maintains comparable productivity levels observed during the current 35-hour work week. After the trial, and subject to consultation with the ASU, Oxfam has committed to considering a range of options, including the permanent introduction of a four-day 30-hour week.
The EBA will go to a vote between March 31 and April 4.
Ms Sturni said she was confident the EBA would attract strong support from workers and that the trial would deliver benefits for the company and employees, as similar trials overseas had done.
Last year, about 3300 people across a range of businesses in the UK took part in the world’s largest trial of a four-day work week.
“The results were enlightening,” Ms Sturni said.
“Employees reported feeling more productive and less stressed, while employers also gave the new working pattern the thumbs up, with some businesses reporting their financial performance improved as well as the increased retention of staff.
“The ASU has a track record of winning better work-life balance for our members and a four-day working week is one way of achieving that.
“The rigid Monday-to-Friday, five-day working week is a thing of the past and no longer serves the modern workplace or its employees, particularly workers with caring responsibilities.
“We are looking forward to seeing the outcomes from this ground-breaking trial and encourage more companies to consider how they too can improve work-life balance for their staff. It’s time to change the way we work.”
Media Contact: Tim O’Halloran 0409 059 617