Implementing a Four-Day Work Week

One of the many effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for many of us was that it changed how we work. Many positions became remote or work-from-home positions, and the latest trend, it appears, is the four-day work week.

Implementing a four-day work week in your company comes with a number of benefits as well as a few potential pitfalls. Here are a few things to consider if you think a four-day work week might be a good idea for your workplace. 

Work-Life Balance and Mental Health

One of the biggest benefits for employees who work a four-day work week is the effect that having that extra day on the weekend can have on their mental health. For many, a two-day weekend simply isn’t enough time to unwind from the stresses of the previous week. 

Having that extra day off may also be useful to help employees get everything they need to do done. For example, parents who have children that are involved in competitive sports may have many weekends tied up with practices, games, tournaments, and travelling. Having either Friday or Monday off can also give them the downtime they may not be getting on the weekend. 

Furthermore, there are many things that can’t get done on a Saturday or Sunday, such as doctor’s appointments, bank errands, etc. An extra day off can allow your employees to complete these tasks without using their lunch breaks or vacation time. 

Another trend we will likely see more of is people asking for a shortened work week that is still five days, but five shortened days to allow them to see to family responsibilities such as picking up young children from daycare. 

How many hours is a four-day work week?

It really depends. It could be a shortened week of only 32 hours (4 days x 8 hours), or it could be a full 40 hours with longer shifts (4 days x 10 hours), or it could be something else. This is something that needs to be worked out between employer and employee. However, a four-day work week does not mean that an employer should be paying for 40 hours and only getting 32 hours worth of work product.

What factors should employers consider before implementing a four-day work week?

Something employers do need to be aware of is that if they compress 40 hours into four days (10-hour shifts), they are into the area of having to provide overtime (time and a half for more than 8 hours per day, and double time for more than 12 hours). Employers can get around paying overtime if they use an Averaging Agreement.  It is important that an Averaging Agreement complies with the Employment Standards Act because if it does not an employer may face a very substantial claim for unpaid wages.

Another consideration for employers is that of coverage. If they implement a four-day work week, will they still have enough workers to cover all shifts? There is a balance to be found between the needs of the business and the needs of the employees and flexible work weeks are one way to try to find that balance. 

Contact Kent Employment Law today

If you are considering implementing a major change to your workplace – such as a four-day work week – it is highly advised that you get the assistance of an employment lawyer who can help you avoid potential pitfalls. Or if you are an employee whose employer is making changes that don’t seem quite right to you, it is also a good idea to speak to an employment lawyer. Contact us today to speak to a lawyer.

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