HomeCoronavirusCross-party group urges chancellor to consider four-day week for UK

Cross-party group urges chancellor to consider four-day week for UK

A group of cross-party MPs have urged the government to consider a four-day working week for the UK post Covid-19, arguing the policy could be “a powerful tool to recover from this crisis”.

The MPs – from Labour, the Scottish National party and the Green party – have written a letter to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, asking him to set up a commission to explore the option, similar to Scotland’s post-Covid-19 Futures Commission which is looking at the possibility of a four-day working week to generate more jobs.

The letter, signed by MPs including the former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, SNP MP Mhairi Black and Green MP Caroline Lucas, said a four-day working week would reduce stress and overwork, boost mental health and wellbeing, and increase productivity.

“Work patterns have already been dramatically altered as a result of the pandemic and we believe the time is now right to explore putting a four-day, 30-hour working week (or any equivalent variation) front and centre – including protections for those on low incomes – as the country unites behind building back better out of this crisis,” it reads.

The letter argues that “shorter hours have been used throughout history as a way of responding to economic crises”, citing the reduction in working hours after the Great Depression in the 1930s to reduce unemployment.

Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, has recently spoken about the four-day week as a way in which New Zealand’s economy can recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

She said the idea had been suggested as a way to stimulate the economy and encourage domestic tourism while borders are closed.

Last year Labour committed to delivering a 32-hour working week within a decade if elected, and then shadow chancellor McDonnell showed particular interest in exploring the possibility of a four-day week.

“Many of the ideas proposed in the recent past, that some scorned at the time, are now mainstream and deserve serious consideration in government as in other countries,” he said, sharing the cross-party letter on social media.

Aidan Harper, from the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “Work has changed for ever as a result of this crisis and we want to make sure we have a better model of work emerging from it as we had going in.

“The benefits of a four-day week are boundless; better mental health and wellbeing, work shared more equally across the economy, greater productivity at work, and the potential to engage in more environmentally sustainable behaviours.”

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