How does a four-day working week sound to you? Appealing? Delightful? Right up your street? Well, it might become a possibility – IF Rishi Sunak does what other MPs and campaigners are asking him to do.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been urged to consider a four-day working week as a way to overhaul the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
A letter sent to Mr Sunak has been signed by former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
The letter, which has been seen by The Independent, argues that a reduction in working hours would produce opportunities and growing levels of unemployment.
In their letter to the Treasury, they said: “A four-day week would give many more opportunities to the growing list of unemployed people which already stands at 2.8 million people.
“Shorter working time has been used throughout history as a way of responding to economic crises. They were used as a way of reducing unemployment during the Great Depression of the 1930s, which led to the normalisation of the eight-hour day and the 40-hour week.”
Former Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery added: “A four-day week would bring multiple benefits to society, the environment, our democracy and our economy (through increased productivity).
“One of the biggest impacts would be better mental health and well-being across the board with more time available for socialising, family and community.
“Three-quarters of UK workers already supported a four-day working week before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and millions of workers have now had a taste of working remotely and on different hours. It’s in no one’s interests to return back to the pressure and stress that people were under before this pandemic.”
The letter to Mr Sunak concludes: “We’re urging your government to show the same commitment towards a better future for the UK by setting up a similar commission – looking at the range of options and models related to shorter working time which the UK could deploy.”
The concept for the four-day working week has gained momentum once again after New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern suggested that employers could consider the idea, saying it would ‘certainly’ boost the tourism industry.