4-day Working Week?



I read the other day that the Greens are suggesting we consider a 4 day working week.

Has anyone thought about this idea? Apparently France has been going that way for over 100 years.

The Greens cited poor work/life balance as being a primary reason for the idea, allowing people more time to be with family/etc.

My thoughts however, were -

  1. Would we maintain a 2 day “weekend”, or make it into a 3 day weekend, with the majority of businesses closing 3 days per week? If not, the workforce mostly suddenly becomes some kind of shift or job-share scenario.

  2. How would people handle a 20% cut in pay? Or would we work longer hours on the 4 days we would be working?

  3. How would business cope with this change to its workforce? Logic dictates businesses would need to employ more people to cover the work, but reality says - no, they’d just expect more from their current workers - yet they would be doing less hours…?

The less extreme idea was to move toward a 6 hour working day, which is apparently an ideal time frame to work to ensure optimal performance. Again, for most “9-5, 5 day/week” jobs that’s a big drop in hours, and thus pay…

Even if such a move did create more jobs, what is even considered “full employment” these days?? In my day (ie circa 1994/5 High School Economics), 7-7.5% unemployment was considered full employment - with that 7% being made up of people between jobs (short term), people who work seasonal jobs, long-term unemployed, and … um… hippies? These days however, employment figures tend to be below that rate anyway - so do we need to work harder at job creation? (Ok - we do in Geelong - Geelong sucks for jobs.)




Sometimes I think you think too much, Cosmic.
6 hour days wouldn’t work. Salary earners would end up just doing even more for free. And I don’t think the Greens’ plan is a 20% reduction in pay either.

And as for the French 35 hour week, by all accounts it is great for public servants, but not for anyone else. Personally the way France is heading it isnt a good example for anyone. The day of reckoning for the political class is not far off, just as well modern France has the safety valve of democratic elections. Le Terreur and La Guillotine are its past after all.

If it makes sense for an organisation to reduce working hours for it’s staff it will. Problem is the marginal cost of employing an additional person in today’s world of OH&S, FWA etc is much, much higher than getting the currently employed to work a few extra hours. It nearly always works out cheaper to pay overtime than employ a new person, especially if that new person (aka millennial) needs training. And they do. Oh yes they do. Mostly unlearning what they wasted time being indoctrinated with at the modern education system.

I suppose the Greens’ think that by making it more expensive to pay overtime (by requiring it after 20 hours, for example), businesses might employ more people. In reality is what would happen is that only large businesses will be able to maintain numbers by spreading the marginal cost across a greater number of workers, and small businesses would be open even less than they are now.

As for the term ‘Full Employment’ it is a bit of bullshit in a modern economy to justify the current levels of unemployment. The employment market is so heavily regulated, and the economy so diversified, that only in the febrile mind of a government economist convinced they control economy would it be possible to determine what the true level of unemployment before inflation started happening would be.

Hencein the Keating years this fake measure was about 7%, and in the HoWARd years it was about 4.5%’ and in the Swan years it was about 6%. The pricks cook up a number that justifies their performance.


I work for a school bus company, we could quite happily transition to 6 hour days because most of the bus drivers only drive in the morning and afternoon plus a bit of time to clean their bus.

But it’d need to be 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon with a long break in the middle of the day.

I don’t know how many people would want to commute home and back during a 3 hour lunch break (and that’s without all the ‘does this mean less pay or not’ issues).


In 2014/2015 I did a long stint of permanent overnight shifts, 4 x 10 hours. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 10pm.

Worked well for me as I was doing uni at the time, so I’d work, and go straight to uni, home, sleep, repeat.

Even if I wasn’t doing uni I’d probably still prefer it. The extra 2 hours wasn’t all that bad and the additional downtime.


LOL Very true.

My personal idea was for a 6 day week, with 4 working days. This of course involves removing Sunday, which I have no qualms about, being not religious. Alternatively of course, keep Sunday by name but remove another day. At any rate, such a move would only see working hours reduce by around 5% pa, so possibly not a huge impact on business. But it also means a substantial number more weekends! :slight_smile:

As for the Greens… when I read the article, I kinda just got the feeling that it was their way of saying - Hey, we do still exist, please don’t forget us… I have no real understanding of how France works, or in particular if their reduced working hours per week is working for them. But in general I think “work/life balance” is becoming more than just a catch-cry.


Self-employed people like me are clearly not part of the Greens thinking. I’m flat out keeping my work down to a six day week, let alone FOUR…god, sheer LUXury. :slight_smile:


It’s a very very hard discussion. Do I personally want to work four days a week? Hell yeah!
Do I want all the other businesses to be open the days I’m off so I can still do what I want? Also Hell Yeah!

So I want to work less, but I essentially want things open 24/7…

I don’t know the answer short of me finding an employer who allows one or more of the following:

  • Working from home
  • Flex time
  • Flexible working arrangements (like 4 x 10 hour days)
  • Purchased leave (ie get paid less but get more annual leave)

Technically I have access to all the above “at the discretion of my manager”… which means I don’t have access to any right now (except purchased leave). That may/will change over time and management.


The proposed changes to penalty rates really hilights some of the issues here. And I’m totally divided over it because I know that dropping penalty rates will affect some of the most vulnerable workers in the country, and the idea that they will “simply” need to work more hours to make up for the shortfall I think is a grotesque statement - especially coming from the people making such statements.

On the other side, as noted, I don’t give a rats about religion/7th day he rested crap… So, I really don’t think Sunday should be treated any differently to any other day.

The risk if we were, for instance, to abandon the concept of a weekend, allowing business to have their employs work on whichever days of the week best suits them, runs the huge and inevitable eventuality that families - with or without kids - will suffer, as it will become harder for them to spend time together - to have the same days off to be with each other - as each employer could determine a different work pattern.

If we move Friday “into” the Weekend, and have “main” work days being Mon-Thur, and then offered a flat penalty rate for Fri-Sun… maybe that could work?


I only work about 4-5 hours a day in the office anyway. Granted I do a fair bit from home or cafe’s too, but I feel like I’ve got a pretty good balance already. And given I manage a team of 15+ I am not keen on them being any less available to me than they already are :slight_smile:


On the penalty rate matter, there is the issue that Coles, woolies, maccas, just about any big business that opens on Sunday have long avoided the double time penalty rate on Sunday through an EBA negotiated with the relevant union. Small business, of course, does not have EBAs so have to pay the extra amount over Saturday rates, which is what we are taking about here; 1.75* vs 2.0* on a Sunday.

The hypocrisy of Bill Shorten is astounding given his role in some of those EBAs back in the day when he was AWU. Really, if Turnbull wasnt such a blow hard useless wanker he would have rallied every small business operator to take up arms against the dupliticous prick and constantly highlight Shorten’s hypocrisy by reminding everyone of the long list of past union endorsed agreements that did not include a special Sunday rate.

Turnbull also should have provided arrangements for the small number of workers that will be actually impacted by the Sunday penalty ratepremium loss (eg not supermarket workers, for example, we are only talking little mum and dad operations) to spread out the wage impact over normal pay, a no disadvantage test if you will. But that would require Lord Wentworth to actually do something.


Every time we have a long weekend I’m always pleasantly surprised at how relaxed Melbourne feels. Both in the city and suburbia. I wonder if that’s what every weekend used to feel like?

Maybe we need 1 day of mandated shops closed for the good of society in the future? Forget about how much people work, etc. I think people these days just don’t know how to relax (slash can’t afford to relax because of the housing bubble that our silly selfish politicians keep pumping up)!


Yes it did. I was brought up in a time when pubs closed at 10pm, shops opened at 9 and closed at 5, there was no thursday night shopping and the shops all closed on Saturday at midday. Saturday afternoons and Sundays were always pretty special. Then, it all changed, and nothing and no time was particularly special anymore. I’d go back to those days in heartbeat. But, its not going to happen.