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Four-day week threatens to widen inequality

Published on: 2 May 2024

A four-day working week could widen race and gender inequalities, a study commissioned by the Welsh Government warns. 

Four-day week threatens to

A working group launched in April 2023 investigated the practical, people and service delivery issues associated with a four-day week, amid calls for the arrangement to be piloted in devolved public services.

Its report, The 4-day week: a social partnership insight, states that inequalities could widen between groups of workers, particularly office staff versus those on the frontline or in around-the-clock operations. 

It also warns that there could be “negative” impacts on different genders, races and other characteristics – and that in some circumstances, entitlements to welfare benefits could be put at risk.

However, the report added, such risks can be “managed and mitigated, if a four-day week is designed and implemented in full consultation with workers and their trade union representatives”. 

Another risk identified by the working group is the financial cost for employers, which may have to recruit more workers to fill gaps in services caused by shorter working hours. 
Despite this, it called the four-day week a “progressive and innovative” way of working that “merits further consideration”.