international employment law firm alliance L&E Global
United Kingdom

UK: Four-day working week trial results – 92% of companies participating to continue with four-day week

Around 2,900 employees from 61 companies took part in the six-month trial conducted by campaign group 4 Day Week Global, which ran from June to December 2022.

Of the 61 participating companies, 92% have extended the four-day week – which equates to 56 companies, with 18 of them having made the change permanent.

According to a report by Autonomy (an independent research organisation), those participating reported a variety of benefits including:

  • 39% of employees considered they were less stressed, 71% reported reduced levels of burnout, 40% were sleeping better and 54% found it easier to balance work and home responsibilities at the end of the trial
  • sick days fell by about two-thirds and 57% fewer staff left the companies taking part compared with the same period a year earlier
  • companies’ revenue stayed broadly the same over the trial period, rising by 1.4% on average, weighted by company size, across organisations that responded to the survey. When compared to a similar period from previous years, organisations reported revenue increases of 35% on average – which potentially indicates healthy growth during this period of working time reduction.

Companies taking part in the trial, which included a range of organisations from diverse sectors and sizes, were not required to rigidly deploy one particular type of working time reduction or four-day week, so long as pay was maintained at 100% and employees had a ‘meaningful’ reduction in work time.

Each company designed a policy tailored to its industry, organisational challenges, departmental structures and work culture. As a result, a range of four-day weeks were used, from ‘Friday off’ models, to ‘staggered’, ‘decentralised’, ‘annualised’, and ‘conditional’ structures.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel

The results of this trial give an interesting insight into the potential for employers to rewrite the rules on what a normal working week looks like for them. However, the longer-term outcomes are yet to be seen and for some sectors there will be greater challenges to overcome than others in introducing a shorter working week.

For a look at some of the practicalities for employers thinking about moving to a four-day week to consider, you can read Clyde & Co’s earlier article Will the four-day week ever be the new norm?.