Moves to reduce the length of the working week are gradually gaining momentum, at least in some countries.
France introduced the 35-hour working week in 2000, where workers are compensated with reduction of working time or 'reduction de temps de travail' (RTT) if they work more than 35 hours in a week. If an employee works 39 hours a week, for example, they are entitled to half a day of rest. In reality, though, not all employees in France experience a 35-hour working week. The law aimed to reduce unemployment and bring flexibility to the labor force.
The UK campaign argues that a four-day week would force companies to improve their productivity, or produce the same output with fewer hours of labor. It can also be used to attract talent and retain employees.
The two biggest UK firms to join the four-day campaign are Atom Bank and marketing firm Awin. Both have about 450 staff in the UK.
Adam Ross, chief of Awin, told The Guardian newspaper that moving to a four-day week was "one of the most transformative initiatives we've seen in the history of the company."
"Over the course of the last year and a half, we have not only seen a tremendous increase in employee wellness and wellbeing but concurrently, our customer service and relations, as well as talent relations and retention also have benefited," he said.
Atom Bank kicked off a four-day, 32-hour work week with no cut in pay in November 2021. The company says it saw a 500% increase in applications for job vacancies, and in August 2022 the organization reported that productivity had increased by 92%. Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter also started a four-day work week.
UK Labour MP Peter Dowd in October proposed a bill in the House of Commons that would reduce the 48-hour working week to 32 hours with hours longer than that to be paid at 1.5 times the worker's ordinary rate. The bill is being considered at a second reading in the Commons next month.
The BBC reported South Cambridgeshire District Council recently trialed a four-day week with no cut in workers pay, while Bristol charity City to Sea adopted it permanently this year.