Four-day week | Civil servants sign petition demanding trial of shorter work week

Civil servants sign petition demanding trial of shorter work week

Civil servants at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) want to pilot a four-day work week, as expressed through a petition from employees delivered to the department’s bosses last week.

If implemented, the scheme would see the department’s 21,000 employees have a shorter work week, a reduction of working hours by 20 per cent.

DEFRA employees expressed their desire for a shorter week through the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), who delivered a petition to bosses.

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The union is calling for department bosses to agree to a trial of the shorter work week, saying the concept of the four-day week has become popular in the UK. The trial would see DEFRA employees working for a shorter period, however maintaining their current pay.

Some companies in the private sector have gone on to adopt a shorter working week after undergoing trials.

Four-day week: Good or bad for business?

Recently, the government ordered councils to bring an end to four-day week trials, attempting to ban future tests of this work model. Reportedly, the Cabinet Office sent out a message to all civil servants, saying they must be in the office for a minimum

Mark Sertwotka, the general secretary at PCS, said: “Evidence suggests a four-day week would lead to a better work-life balance for staff and could improve productivity for the employer.

“Previous trials have led to a reduction in sick leave and improvements to staff retention and satisfaction.

“If DEFRA wants to seriously address the issues of employee burnout, stress and poor well-being, they will listen to our members and implement this pilot.”


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DEFRA employee demands are being backed by the Four-Day Week Campaign, the organisation that ran the world’s biggest trial of the four-day week. The organisation’s director, Joe Ryles, explained on the HR Grapevine Podcast the benefits of a shorter week. He said: “Work has dominated people’s lives for too long in this country, and the time has come to move to something that has a better balance – that's where the four-day working week comes about, giving working people a better work-life balance.

“The results show that the four-day week, with no loss of pay for workers, is a win-win for both workers and employers, for productivity improvements but also in terms of the wellbeing of employees.



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