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 â€œa powerful tool to recover from this crisisâ€.
The MPs â€“ from Labour, the Scottish National party and the Green party â€“ have written a letter to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, asking him to set up a commission to explore the option, similar to Scotlandâ€™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.
â€œWork 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 â€“ including protections for those on low incomes â€“ as the country unites behind building back better out of this crisis,â€ it reads.
The letter argues that â€œshorter hours have been used throughout history as a way of responding to economic crisesâ€, 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 Zealandâ€™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.
â€œMany 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,â€ he said, sharing the cross-party letter on social media.
Aidan Harper, from the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: â€œWork 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.
â€œThe 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.â€