Are four day weeks coming to the UK in 2009?

23 December 2008

Who would you rather sleep with? The head of Goerge Clooney on the body of Johnny Vegas? Or the head of Johnny Vegas on the body of George Clooney?

No? Alright, here's another: would you rather work a four day week for the foreseeable future, or have your boss make you redundant so you can find a full-time job? It's a scenario you might want to consider, as shorter working weeks could become a trend in 2009.

Business Week has highlighted several US companies that have reduced the hours of their workforce during the current economic gloom. Why not just put staff out of their misery and let them go? Because the companies don't want to lose skilled staff that'll be difficult to replace should the economy bounce back sooner than expected; sacking people integral to manufacturing and production would hinder a company's ability to respond to an unexpected uplift in business.

That's not the only reason, however, according to Business Week:

In Atlanta, Mayor Shirley Franklin is cutting the hours and pay of 4,600 employees by 10% because the city is facing a $50 million budget shortfall. Franklin says that if she were to lay off more workers instead of slashing hours, "you'd have to eliminate major functions of the government. It's not just jobs we've saved, it's services."

A four day week may seem like cause for a booze-fuelled house party until you realise you can't afford the booze anymore. Or the house. With unemployment expected to rise sharply in 2009, would you be willing to accept a shorter working week that may cripple you financially, or would you quit the job altogether to find full time work?

[BusinessWeek] via [Consumerist]

8 comments

  • Ows
    @ "would you be willing to accept a shorter working week that may cripple you financially, or would you quit the job altogether to find full time work?" It's a no-brainer, isn't it? Isn't it?! Argh! The thought of taking a paycut when the cost of living is already scarily high unnerves me no end. Joe Public finds him/herself in an increasingly difficult position as the weeks go by. It really is a very unfair price to pay for the activities of rogue financiers (although I'm simplifying the analogy to the power of ten, i imagine!).
  • well w.
    thats what they should do in all these jobs where redundancies are happening. it could mean the difference between keeping a job or not. if you wanted to earn a bit extra you could then get a second part time job to top you up. You could also use that time to retrain or spend it with your children. Seems a brilliant idea for companies that are struggling to keep its workforce. It's also nondiscriminatory so everyone is treated alike. Voted hot.
  • cornish
    The thought of taking a paycut when the cost of living is already scarily high......How many different ways have i heard this lately. Personally My morgage has become much cheaper in recent months, Food and petrol has come down to prices of 2006. High street goods are at unbeleievable lows(hold on there getting lower). Surely the only ones suffering are people who have lost thier jobs and people with loads of money saved up. 4 day week? Bring it on!!!
  • Halflife
    We have just had to take a 'temporary' 5% pay cut at work. The shop floor (I work in the offices) have had to go on a 4 day week because there is not enough work for them to do. Difficult one this, on the face of it I should be fuming about the pay cut and I guess I am but the alternative does not look good either, you do feel like they have got you over a barrel and you are stuffed either way. There is another dimension to this 4 day week / pay cut though. Many larger firms face the prospect of having to pay out redundancy at times when cash flow is tight, the cynical side of me would say that this features largely in their thinking as well (delaying the inevitable??) By the way, I work for an American company. Halflife
  • Sharp
    Given a choice I would rather work a 4 day week than try to find another job in a decreasing job market! Jobs are in shorter supply every day and benefits don't kick-in till your savings are below £3k. 4 day week is better than the stress of No Job...
  • Nikki
    I think its a good idea if it keeps people in employment and helps companies ride through this stormand not end up as another company calling in administrators. If peoples hours are over 30 and they are low income they will get assistance from government which will still be less than government would have to pay out if they were unemployed. My muums hours were cut at her place from full time to 6!! Seasonal type occupation so she found a new job locally - not much employment in my area and public transport is expensive - her new job is approx 20 hours per week so she is not entitled to WTC but her old company paid most newish starts off, reduced full time employes to part time due to downturn in profits.
  • Robovski
    I was working a 4 day week full-time for 6 months this year, it was great, and what I would like to be doing now. On the whole, I'd rather lose a day than lose my job, I can look for other work while still having an income, even though I'd be due a redundancy payment. As Sharp said, jobs are in shorter supply. But best is the 4 day full-time week. It was absolutlely brilliant having 3 days off every week in exchange for a slightly longer day.
  • John
    do tax credits make your pay up to its 5 day level if you went on a 4 day week?? I ask because when I received a £1000 pay rise, I lost around £600 in tax credits (and payed £300 in tax), making the pay rise negliable. So surely if I lost a grand, I would gain those £600 of tax credits back again??

What do you think?

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