Belgium will now allow employees to work four days a week. Several governments and businesses have tried the concept, which is gaining acceptance in various areas of the world.
Four days at work, three days at home with friends and family. And everything at the same price. What’s not to appreciate about that? Most employees would undoubtedly leap at the opportunity. Advocates for the four-day work week claim that when it is adopted, worker happiness and productivity rise.
For those who choose it, Belgium will now implement four-day workweeks. Employees, on the other hand, will not be working any less. If they choose, they may simply compress their hours into fewer days. They will be able to choose whether to work four or five days each week.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo expects that the approach will assist to build a more dynamic economy and make it simpler for individuals to balance their personal and professional life. However, some full-time employees will have to work very long days if they want to reduce their hours. Others, such as shift employees, will simply not have such flexibility.
Fewer hours at full pay in Iceland
Between 2015 and 2019, Iceland explored a similar concept. It did, however, cut the working week from 40 to 35 or 36 hours while maintaining compensation levels. Approximately 2,500 people took part in the testing phase.
According to research conducted by the Icelandic non-profit Alda (Association for Democracy and Sustainability) and the British think tank Autonomy, participants’ well-being had increased dramatically, working procedures had been streamlined, and there was a tighter collaboration among colleagues. Productivity either remained constant or increased.
Following the test phase, trade unions and organizations achieved permanent work-hour reductions. Currently, 86 per cent of employees have the right to a four-day workweek.
Scotland and Wales: A costly experiment
Scotland is likewise experimenting with the four-day work week, with the state providing over £10 million (around $13.6 million) in support to participating enterprises. Sophie Howe, the future generations’ commissioner in Wales, has also called on the government to implement a similar four-day working week trial, at least in the public sector.
In Sweden, the outcomes were mixed.
In 2015, Sweden experimented with a four-day workweek with full pay, with mixed results. Even left-wing parties believed that implementing this on a big scale would be too expensive. However, other businesses have chosen to keep their employees on reduced hours. Toyota has previously chosen to do this for mechanics ten years ago and has kept to its choice.
Finland’s fake news
Finland likewise made international news for a brief period after allegedly drastically reducing labour hours. The northern European country purportedly sought to implement a four-day workweek and a six-hour day. However, it was discovered that this was fake news, which the government was subsequently forced to correct.
Spain is struggling to begin the trial phase.
The four-day working week will also be attempted in Spain, at the request of the left-wing party Mas Pais. Approximately 6,000 employees from 200 small and medium-sized businesses will be able to extend their weekends by one day and get full compensation. The trial phase is expected to last at least a year, although no date has been set.
From start-ups to corporate giants
Smaller start-ups in Germany are mostly experimenting with a shortened workweek. However, in other nations, such as Japan, larger corporations are going into this territory: Microsoft, for example, has experimented with the approach by providing staff with three-day weekends for a month.
Unilever, the consumer products conglomerate, is now testing a four-day workweek at full pay in New Zealand. If the trial is deemed a success, it will allegedly be expanded to other nations.
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