Charities in the UK are allowing staff to work fewer hours each week over the next six months without a reduction in pay as part of the world’s largest ever trial of a four-day working week.
The Royal Society of Biology, Scotland’s International Development Alliance, Stemettes, We Are Purposeful, and Waterwise are piloting the scheme in which employees will receive 100% of their pay for 80% of their usual hours but commit to delivering 100% of their normal productivity.
Charity Bank, which provides services to the social and voluntary sector, is also taking part in the trial and has said that the standard five-day working week is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.
More than 70 companies and organisations and 3,300 workers across over 30 sectors are taking part in the six-month pilot. It is run by 4 Day Week Global, a not-for-profit community, and Autonomy, a think tank.
A way to “minimise burnout”
Scotland’s International Development Alliance, which has seven fulltime staff according to its latest accounts, is joining the trial “in an effort to prioritise wellbeing and staff retention” its chief executive officer Frances Guy said.
She said: “The research and evidence supporting the four-day-week as a way to minimise burnout, whilst simultaneously maintaining or increasing productivity, was a key factor in our decision to take part.
“The transition is not one that we take lightly, so we are glad to have the support of the global pilot to guide us through the process and provide access to crucial support and experience over the next six months.”
Five-day week ‘no longer fit for purpose’
Ed Siegel, chief executive of the Charity Bank, which had 52 fulltime equivalent staff as of 31 December 2020, said that a four-day week would improve employees’ productivity while “enhancing [their] physical and mental health”.
He said: “Our decision to pilot a four-day week isn’t just about cutting one workday from our weekly calendar. It’s about looking out for the people who work for us and considering how we can align our working habits with the best interests of our customers, society and the planet.
“The 20th-century concept of a five-day working week is no longer the best fit for 21st-century business. We firmly believe that a four-day week with no change to salary or benefits will create a happier workforce and will have an equally positive impact on business productivity and customer experience.”
A ‘strong tool for attraction’
In June 2021, Community Integrated Care introduced a four-day week for 300 employees in its finance, human resources and other support functions in a bid to offer staff more flexibility.
The large social care charity recently expanded the offer to its operational leaders after it found that it helped attract more workforce.
English charity STOPAIDS, which has 12 employees, has also permanently implemented a 28-hour work week after running an 18-month pilot in October 2019.