Implementing a four-day working week in the public sector could create up to half a million new jobs.
This research comes from think tank Autonomy, who said that if the public sector moves to a 32-hour week with no loss of pay to employees, this could result in 300,000 and 500,000 new jobs. It is believed that these shorter hour weeks would leave room for the additional jobs. The average public-sector workers’ week lasts for 36.4 hours.
This move is expected to cost between £5.4 billion to £9 billion a year, once you take the financial gains of a reduction of sick leave and stress out of the equation.
The report detailed that areas with the highest rate of unemployment also have the highest levels of public sector employees, such as Scotland, North of England and Wales.
Another benefit of such a move is that it would help reduce burnout and work-related stress. With furlough coming to an end in October, there is concern that unemployment could spike once the scheme ends. Back in July, the think tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), predicted that by the end of this year there will be over a million young people (18-24) unemployed with the help of COVID-19.
Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy said:
The time has come for a four-day working week and the public sector should act as the pioneer for it, both as employer and as procurer of services.
To help tackle the unemployment crisis we are facing this winter, a four-day week is the best option for sharing work more equally across the economy and creating much needed new jobs.
The four-day week makes so much sense as it would boost productivity, create new jobs and make us all much happier and healthier.
A poll placed on Autonomy’s site earlier this year showed that 12 per cent of the public is against the idea of a four-day working week and 63 per cent thinks the Government should explore it.
A motion has been signed by 43 cross-party MPs to research the implementation of a shorter working week in an attempt to recover from the COVID-19 economic fallout.