Will the four-day work week become the new norm?
A four-day working week is inching closer to reality for Oxfam workers, with the ASU and the organisation agreeing to a trial.
While negotiations are yet to be finalised, it is expected that a pilot will be co-designed by management, staff, and the union and will be established and formalised in the first year of the new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
It will see employees receive a full-time wage for working 30 hours across four days of the week.
ASU assistant branch secretary Cassie Farley described the in-principle agreement – the first four-day week the union had been successful in negotiating – as a “good starting point”.
“There is still a lot of detail to work through, but we’re very pleased with how this is taking shape and the benefits that will flow through to Oxfam workers and their families,” said Ms Farley.
“Modern workplaces and their employees are starting to rethink what a working week can look like, and, for many, the traditional nine-to-five shift from Monday to-Friday just doesn’t cut it anymore.“The ASU is committed to fighting for better work-life balance for our members and a four-day working week is one way of achieving that.”
While it might not be surprising that workers have embraced the four-day a week trend … employers are seeing the benefits too.
The impending shift comes as organisations worldwide are flirting with the concept. Earlier this year, 3,300 people across a range of businesses in the UK took part in the world’s largest trial of a four-day week, working 80 per cent of their regular hours for 100 per cent of their pay. Employees were required to maintain the same level of productivity as they would working five days per week and assess the new schedule’s impact on various aspects of their health and wellbeing.
Not surprisingly, the feedback from employees was overwhelmingly positive; people felt they were more productive and less stressed. Employers also gave the new working pattern the thumbs up, with some businesses reporting their financial performance improved.
A separate international trial involving more than 900 employees across 33 companies based in the US, Australia, Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, and Canada, reported similar results.
Almost all the participants — 96.9 per cent – said they wanted to continue working a four-day week rather going back to five days, and more than half of the participating companies have already decided to implement four-day weeks.
Meanwhile, recent research has revealed that on-in-three Australians would leave their current job for a company that offered a four-day working week in search of a better work-life balance.
“While it might not be surprising that workers have embraced the four-day a week trend, it is interesting that employers are seeing the benefits too,” said Ms Farley.
“Global trials confirm that productivity is not harmed by moving away from antiquated, rigid five-day a week structures and in fact workplaces have been challenged through these experiments to make changes that benefit productivity.
“A four-day work week represents a true win-win for employers and employees.
“However, the next step will be ensuring this translates to all workgroups including shift workers, both in ensuring adequate compensation through overtime and penalty rates, as well as through appropriate work life balance provisions.”
Read the latest ASU news and updates here: https://asuvic.org/unite-journal-december-2022/