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Italy considering trialling four-day working week

By March 13, 2017Current Affairs
Working Week | HR Solutions

To help tackle Italy’s growing unemployment, councillors have put their support behind proposals to introduce a four-day week. The proposals will cut the working week from 40 to 32 hours.

This, councillors claim, would create around 200,000 jobs by introducing new job roles in a variety of industries and provide work for the country’s 160,000 unemployed.

Italy reduced the working week before. It dropped Saturday back in 1977, creating around 1 million jobs.

Do shorter hours really work?

A short working week could actually boost productivity. In fact, research suggests that the average five-day working week isn’t the most healthy or productive way to work.

Other countries have trailed shorter working hours in the last decade. Sweden famously trialled a six-hour working day in a care home. This allowed workers enjoy a better work life balance. A happier, healthier workforce results in less time off sick, and better, more focused employees. But the overall cost of the shorter working day eventually resulted in Sweden scrapping the trial.

Could a short week come to the UK?

Many employers already offer a flexible working week for their employees. Many staff work 40 hours, but condensed into four days. While an attractive prospect for some, as the same amount of work needs delivering, it can put extra pressure on staff.

Is it worth it?

Authorities suggest that a four-day working week is practical, as it allows people and families to be flexible on child and family care arrangements. It can also save costs for businesses, and there are inevitable environmental benefits with less traffic on the roads.

Compressing the working week, however, could carry some long-term health risks. Regularly working more than twelve hours a day, or 60 hours a week, could contribute to a number of health conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart problems.

The 4-day week could fit in with city life

Living and working in a big city brings a lot of stress. A four-day working week could improve life significantly. Overworking can result in mental health problems in employees and a stressed, tired, overworked population results in time off work and increased costs to businesses. The four-day working week or more flexible working hours could see employees having more energy, enthusiasm and be more productive.

Attract better talent

Offering flexible working hours can be a huge factor in successful attracting new talent to the workforce. Employers are finding it increasingly tough to hire the best talent, so showing staff they respect a work life balance could be a key.

After all, a well-rested, motivated and enthusiastic workforce should be the lifeblood of any company.

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