Employer’s guide to implementing the four-day work week

The world’s largest pilot of a four-day work week has launched in the UK. The pilot will last six months, with 70 companies and 3,300 workers participating. The workers taking part will work 80% of their usual hours at 100% productivity while receiving no cuts to their pay.

While the pilot has already commenced, and it is now too late to sign up, a four-day work week might still be something you are considering as an employer. In this article, we look at the benefits of the four-day work week and the steps you can take to implement it.

Potential benefits of a four-day work week

There are several potential advantages of a four-day working week, including:

Increased productivity
As employees spend less time in the workplace, the general theory is that they will be more focused during the time they are there and, therefore, more productive. Overworked employees can be less productive, and giving staff more time off during the week can mean they will return to work feeling more refreshed and work more efficiently.

Attract and retain quality staff
Particularly since the pandemic, lockdowns and millions of people switching to remote working, many people are now thinking more about the importance of a work-life balance and more flexibility in their work. A four-day work week could help you attract and, most importantly, retain the best talent with job satisfaction and company loyalty.

Reduced costs
A four-day work week can result in reduced costs for everyone. If you decide to close your office for the additional day per week, this will result in less running costs. It will also mean the commuting costs for everyone travelling to work will be reduced, again making it an attractive workplace.

Potential disadvantages of a four-day work week

While there are many advantages to implementing a four-day work week, there are also some disadvantages that should be considered, such as:

Will it suit your business model?
While the four-day week suits many types of businesses well, it might not work for everyone, and this is something you must consider.  Will a four-day work week leave you short-staffed on days workers are not working? You must assess how you can adapt your business model to suit if you are to implement a four-day work week.

Increased stress for employees
While employees are only working 80% of their hours, they will still be required to do 100% of their job to maintain their current workloads. Therefore, employees having fewer days to complete their work might increase work-related stress and thus impact employee satisfaction.

Taking the wrong approach
In the current pilot scheme, a critical part is ensuring workers are actually doing a four-day work week, and not the same number of hours but in four days. Often a four-day working week can be confused with compressed hours. Compressed hours mean longer days and can ultimately lead to decreased staff productivity and work-life balance. While they are off for three days a week, their working days are much longer.

To discuss this, or any other employment related matter, please contact Jane directly on 01483 887766, email info@hartbrown.co.uk or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Jane Crosby

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises...

Jane Crosby -Head of Dispute Resolution

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane Crosby

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises in employment Law and commercial litigation and brings more than 15 years' experience to her role.

Prior to entering the legal profession, Jane was employed in the aviation industry. This experience is appreciated by many of Jane's clients who note that she is able to take a commercial and pragmatic approach to any legal issue that they face.

Jane acts for a wide range of individuals and businesses and her areas of specialism include aviation, property related industries and IT. Jane regularly advises on aspects of employment law, such as settlement agreements, employment contracts, policies and procedures, redundancies, equal pay, data protection, issues arising from TUPE and reorganisations, the calculation of holiday pay, bonus and commission payments, disciplinary and grievance issues, dismissal and termination issues, the protection of confidential information and the enforcement of restrictive covenants. Jane gets involved in GDPR training for her clients and she is able to deliver tailored employment law training sessions upon request.

As a commercial litigation lawyer, Jane also deals in shareholder and directors disputes, commercial contract disputes and the enforcement of restrictive covenants.

Jane has been involved in successful high value commercial litigation for clients in the High Courts, she is an accredited mediator and she is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Jane is often asked to write for a number of well known publications, including The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Week and she has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4.

Here is small selection of the feedback that Jane has received:

“Jane, I cannot sincerely thank you enough for your wise counsel and am delighted to have made your acquaintance. If I am blessed with a new position somewhere I will hand over my contract in the first instance to you. Likewise, any of my friends, peers, romans and countrymen wanting advice, I will point them in your direction.”

“Jane, you have been most resilient on my behalf for which I sincerely thank you for all your endeavours. I have a tremendous working relationship with Hart Brown and you have undoubtedly compounded this further."

“I appreciated the clarity of advice given at a stressful time”.

“A sensitive and highly professional approach and efficient work in the interests of the client”.

“Your advice, conduct and assistance have been indeed outstanding and very professional but also – and most importantly – very humane”.