UNISON backs four-day working week

“The fight for decent working hours has always been at the heart of union campaigning”

Delegates at UNISON's national delegate conference hold voting cards aloft.

UNISON has officially backed a four-day working week at national delegate conference today (Friday) in Brighton.

Delegates passed a motion to demand the next government takes action to ensure more employers adopt this new way of working.

The motion submitted by UNISON’s Dorset branch says: “The fight for decent working hours has always been at the heart of union campaigning.

“Trade unions fought for an eight-hour day in the 19th century and a two-day weekend in the 20th. In the 21st, it is time to take the next step and win a four-day week with fair pay for all.”

The motion also notes the success of the world’s biggest four-day week pilot that took place in the UK in 2022.

Research has shown that business performance and productivity increased for the companies that participated. The wellbeing of employees also improved, and the majority of firms (92%) decided to continue with a four-day week.

UNISON represents staff at South Cambridgeshire District Council, which was the first Local Authority to move to a four-day week with no loss of pay.

Earlier this month, more than 500 union members and representatives joined a Trades Union Congress (TUC) meeting with the 4 Day Week Campaign. The campaign is supporting workers across the country who are organising for a four-day week with no loss of pay in their workplaces.

UNISON general secretary, Christina McAnea said: “Offering truly flexible work patterns, including a 4-day week, can help employers recruit and retain staff.

“Organisations who’ve tried this approach tend to have happier staff, who are more focused at work, which boosts productivity.

“The rise of artificial intelligence could make a 4-day week inevitable. What’s needed is a rethink on how workplaces are organised, as well as progressive policies that future-proof people’s livelihoods and protect their wellbeing.

“The pandemic proved that people could do their jobs from home and still be efficient. A 4-day working week is the next big step.”

Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, Joe Ryle said: “With an expected incoming Labour government, it’s fantastic to see unions embracing the opportunity of a four-day working week. Unions ‘won us’ the weekend a century ago and their support will again be vital.

“As hundreds of British companies have already shown, a four-day week with no loss of pay can be a win-win for workers and employers.”