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Welsh Government to consider four-day working week plan

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Welsh Government to consider four-day working week plan

MAKING people work four days a week – instead of five – would make workers happier, healthier and more productive, according to supporters of the scheme.

Campaigners have taken a giant stride forward in their attempts to shorten the working week, and the Welsh Government will now consider the evidence a Senedd committee has put forward.

If passed, public sector staff in Wales could end up enjoying three day weekends with no loss of earnings.

It sounds like a radical idea, but to one Senedd member who has long supported a four-day working week, it is a logical next step in the long-term movement to secure workers’ rights.

“It is a bold proposal but no more bold than those campaigners who fought for a five day week, paid holiday and sick pay which we now take for granted,” said Jack Sargeant, a Labour MS who also chairs the Senedd’s Petitions Committee.
“People in Wales work some of the longest hours in Europe. Despite these long hours the UK lags behind on productivity, once we break that link of ‘hours worked equalling productivity’ we can start to look at a four-day week differently.”

Mr Sargeant noted pilot schemes and studies in other countries – Belgium, Ireland and New Zealand are all considering similar moves – but said “we will have a much stronger knowledge of how they fit our circumstances here in Wales if we conduct our own trials”.

He has called for the Welsh Government to conduct a “modest experiment” in the public sector to find out how a four-day working week could make an impact.

The momentum behind the scheme comes from the 4 Day Week Campaign, and a petition by Barry entrepreneur Mark Hooper won over Mr Sargeant’s committee, which has now urged the government to hold a trial.

Mr Hooper called the committee’s endorsement “a major step forward towards a world where we have a better relationship with work”.

“Today, our lives are too often dominated by how we earn our living and that makes us more ill, sadder and ultimately less productive,” he added.

Joe Ryle, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “The nine-to-five, five-day working week is outdated, no longer fit for purpose and causing burnout for people working across the Welsh economy.
“Moving to a four-day week would give people the time to live happier and more fulfilled lives, whilst also improving productivity in the workplace.”

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