Four day week for all staff

All SCC staff move to a four day working week

Photo_on_01-05-2013_at_09.31 Submitted by Ben Unsworth
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Moving to a four day week would give all of us 50% more time off for only a 20% reduction in pay. The savings in staff costs would go a long way to meeting the financial challenges the Council is facing.

Fewer people will be travelling on Surrey's roads, we will need less infrastructure and resources (buildings, energy, ICT etc..) and people could do whatever they like with their free day. This might be time with your family, or starting that business you always promised you would.

There are those jobs and services where this might not be feasible, but I am sure it is possible to get a significant proportion of people onto a four day week.

  • David Stoker
    29 May at 13:02

    It is strange how, as technology has made our lives better and reduced our labour, we work the same hours as many decades ago, if not longer.

    Fun fact of the day: Winston Churchill was in favour of four day weeks as an aspiration for the country.

    Just think of what extra time this would free up to create a stronger civic socierty: more time for volunteering and hobbies, more money going into Surrey's leisure businesses.

    Ben, if you're doing any more research, I believe Montreal is a city worth looking up as an example of a nation of clubs, and we can take inspiration from Germany, where a 28 hour week is the norm yet the economy is thriving (there are some structural issues for this - medium sized businesses and banks - but the point stands).

  • Ben Unsworth
    29 May at 17:09

    Thanks David - there are some great examples across Europe, quite a few states and cities in the USA and I think The Gambia too.

  • Mac Mabel
    30 May at 13:43

    you really do live in cloud cuckoo land

  • Ben Unsworth
    03 Jun at 08:28

    Thanks Mac :)

  • Rachel Yexley
    05 Jun at 09:57

    Hi Ben,
    I am probably in the minority but this is an idea that I support! Am I right in thinking that some Council's have moved to this already? Do you think it could work on an opt-in basis?

  • Tony Howe
    06 Jun at 09:35

    Four day weeks' only work of you have four days' - worth of work. If not, then the remaining day's work simply carries over until the next week. Cumulatively, either the services would get further behind and worse, or we'd have to employ more staff. Either way, this is a highly dubious "economy" for the County to consider.

  • Gary Green
    14 Jun at 14:14

    Balancing the extra free time with less pay might work for some. However, I wonder how many staff could survive on "only a 20% reduction in pay"? What you might find is that the Council becomes leaner because staff leave, because a 20% pay cut is a rather large amount in reality ... then the people left have so much more work to do they go back to a 5 day week with longer days, overtime and stress related illnesses.

  • David Stoker
    18 Jun at 13:44

    Gary, I hear you and those are real risks. We don't know what the solution looks like yet, but we can look at what others have tried and learn from them. In all working scenarios reasonable workloads are essential. The ethos of this proposal is that we create no matyrs to overwork.

  • Ben Robinson
    19 Jun at 10:44

    The New Economics Foundation goes further in advocating a 21 hour week to help address a range of issues including unemployment and high carbon emissions, as well as the more obvious stress and low well-being. There are clearly considerable barriers, but as a principle and aspiration it's worth considering, particularly as similar initiatives have been shown to significantly boost productivity and reduce staff turnover.

  • Paul P
    19 Jun at 10:58

    It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

    Thus, an person of leisure can spend an entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to their niece at Bognor Regis.

    An hour will be spent in finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half-an-hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar-box in the next street. The total effort which would occupy a busy person for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil.

  • Liz Daughters
    01 Jul at 13:27

    Ben are you advocating that the Council is only open for four days a week other than critical or essential services? Staff can already work four days or even three days a week through flexible working. In fact I think that the latest workforce statistics show that we are predominantly a part time work force.

    I think that this is an interesting concept and am interested in how other organisations that have tried it have balanced this with paying people a living wage. It would also raise the question of how council buildings could be used if they were effectively closed for three days a week. If they were open for other use by the community it would negate any savings made from reduced running costs or heating.

    If this was also about improving services the four days could actually be longer which would be beneficial to residents. I am a little uncomfortable with reducing salaries by 20% across the board as many staff on lower salaries would not be able to survive.