Manufacturing Sector: The Four-Day Working Week

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Jack Latham - Senior Associate

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4 Day Week Global has recently published its results from the world’s largest trial of a four-day work week.

Sixty-one companies and 3,000 workers participated in the six-month trial.

Of the sixty-one participating companies, fifty-six are continuing with the four-day week, and eighteen of those have made the change permanent.

However, it remains to be seen whether a four-day work week could permanently replace the traditional five-day week due to the industry-specific challenges it could raise.

The shift to remote and hybrid working accelerated by the pandemic continues to have a lasting impact on work as increasing numbers of employers have reconsidered their working arrangements.

However, the need for physically present staff in sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing and distribution is a very real barrier to the implementation of remote or hybrid work in the manufacturing industry.

This can be a significant source of job dissatisfaction amongst workers in these industries, who are unable to enjoy the same flexibility that other workers are afforded.

This can result in higher job dissatisfaction compared to ‘desk-based’ roles.

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Manufacturing Sector The Four Day Working Week

Potential benefits of a four-day week to the manufacturing sector

The results of the 4 Day Week Global trial are consistent with those of previous trials and suggests that employees who may benefit from reduced-hour working with those in construction and manufacturing enjoyed the largest reductions in burnout and sleep issues.

Other reported benefits include increased productivity, employees taking fewer sick days and higher staff retention.

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Potential benefits of a four day week to the manufacturing sector

Potential challenges of a four-day week for the manufacturing sector

A combination of the pandemic and Brexit has left the manufacturing sector facing skills and labour gaps, meaning existing employees are more likely to work overtime rather than being in a position to reduce their hours.

It is also common for manufacturing facilities to operate over 24 hours, which would likely mean an increase in recruitment, staffing and training costs in the event that employees are on site for less time.

It should also be noted that the piloted four-day working week should not be confused with compressed hours, where employees are expected to still work their full hours across four days.

While compressed hours may work in certain industries, they can also decrease productivity levels and impact employees’ engagement, work-life balance and happiness.

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Potential challenges of a four day week for the manufacturing sector

Should you consider a four-day working week?

Any manufacturing business planning to trial a four-day workweek should consider the following:

  • The length of the trial;
  • Communicating the trial with employees;
  • The costs related to recruiting and training any new employees;
  • Setting clear performance expectations;
  • The impact on holiday entitlement;
  • How you would determine whether the trial is successful;
  • Updating contracts of employment if changes are to be made permanent.

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Should you consider a four day working week

Contact Our Employment Team

If Myerson’s team of experienced Employment lawyers can assist you with the navigating the four-day working week, or with any other employment queries you may have, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Jack Latham's profile picture

Jack Latham

Senior Associate

Jack has over 7 years of experience acting as an Employment solicitor. Jack has specialist expertise in redundancy, disciplinary and grievance procedures, terminations, settlement agreements and restrictive covenants.

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