Is your business considering a 4-day work week? Have you thought through the fine print?
The hype around working a 4-day work week is growing among employers and employees. Twenty companies across Australia and New Zealand began trialling four-day weeks in August as part of a six month pilot study run by 4 Day Week Global. Like many business owners, after reading about the reported successes, including increased revenue and productivity, decreased absenteeism and increased staff engagement, you’ve no doubt been wondering whether a 4-day week would benefit your business.
Implementing a 4-day week requires careful consideration. Did you know that adopting a 4-day work week involves delivering 100% productivity over 80% of the time with 100% of pay? This principle would need to be maintained to be competitive with other employers offering a 4-day week. To be clear, the concept does not include asking your staff to work longer hours over four days to make up the time for spending one less day a week at work.
Some questions to answer when considering a 4-day week include:
- How would you provide coverage across your business’s customer-facing hours if everyone worked one less day each week? Would you split the workforce and stagger working days throughout the week? Would you need to employ more people? Where would you find those new people?
- How would you handle public holidays? If a public holiday fell on an employee’s ordinary working day, would you still expect employees to work four days a week to maintain productivity? This one is really important because public holiday hours are counted in an employee’s ordinary hours, and you would likely end up with an overtime situation.
- Are you covered by consultation provisions in your Award or Enterprise Agreement that will need to be provided to staff before implementing a four-day working week? Do you understand what is involved in a consultation process?
- Do you understand how the hours clauses in your Award and Agreement operate? If an employee needed to work longer hours one day because of the shorter work week, would it be ordinary hours or overtime? Would an individual flexibility agreement be required?
- And, if an employee did need to work longer hours, could it result in fatigue and some accident occurring? How would you best mitigate that risk?
- Are there other flexible work practices that could be explored that might be a better fit for the business and your staff? Such as offering rostered days off, 9-day fortnights, flexible start and finish times and job share arrangements, to name a few.
Still keen to explore a 4- day week? You may also want to consider running a trial first. During the trial, you can monitor your team’s performance and ask for feedback from the group and your customers. When the trial has ended, you can use the information obtained to make an informed decision as to whether the 4-day week is right for your company.
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