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4-day weeks see staff personal days drop by 44%

The number of employees taking sick and personal days has seen a dramatic decline in companies that have implemented a four-day working week policy.

user iconEmma Musgrave 18 August 2023 Big Law
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Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on Lawyers Weekly’s sister brand, HR Leader.

The benefits of the four-day working week have been discussed at length by Lawyers Weekly. Not only does the policy lead to greater productivity levels, new research has shown it makes a considerable difference in the number of days employees clock in and out.

According to a May 2023 report published by not-for-profit organisation 4 Day Week Global, companies that recently conducted a four-day working week trial saw a 44.3 per cent decline in the number of sick and personal days taken.


Further, they saw an 8.86 per cent decline in the number of resignations.

On a scale of one to 10, from very negative to very positive, companies rated the overall impact of the trial an 8.2/10.

Out of 10 Australian and 16 overseas companies that implemented it, just one workplace opted not to continue the four-day working week post-trial.

How it was structured

In terms of how companies arranged their four-day working weeks, the most popular approach was for all workers to not have the same day off (41 per cent). This meant, for example, that each department had a different day off per week or everyone’s day off rotated each month.

Fridays were the most common day off (36 per cent), followed by Mondays and Wednesdays.

While absenteeism was a clear takeaway in the report, other business outcomes, such as employee satisfaction, were felt heavily.

The findings showed 96 per cent of employees whose company participated in the trial want to continue working four days a week. Fifty-four per cent of these reported an increase in productivity, and almost all (96 per cent) said they reduced their work time.

Interestingly, one in 10 employees surveyed said no amount of money would entice them to go back to working five days.

Meanwhile, 35 per cent of employees said they would go back to five days if they received a salary of 26 to 50 per cent more, and 9 per cent would require more than 50 per cent.

Health and wellbeing outcomes were also a clear takeaway, with 64 per cent of employees experiencing reductions in burnout, while 38 per cent felt less stress working a four-day week.

Work-to-family and family-to-work conflict also declined, with 65 per cent of employees feeling greater satisfaction with their work/life balance.

Thirty-eight per cent reported being less fatigued, and 35 per cent had fewer sleep problems. Meanwhile, exercise duration went up by an average of 20 minutes per week.

Twenty-seven per cent of men in heterosexual relationships increased their share of housework, and 17 per cent increased their share of childcare.

Finally, considering the environmental outcomes, time spent commuting fell a full 36 minutes per person per week during the trial.

Interestingly, 42 per cent of employees did more environmentally friendly activities during the trial, such as recycling, buying eco-friendly items, and walking and cycling rather than driving.

Commenting off the back of the latest report, 4 Day Week Global co-founders Charlotte Lockhart and Andrew Barnes said: “As each new round of research is released, it becomes harder to deny the many benefits of reduced work time.

“As employers, we borrow people from their lives, and it is incumbent on us to ensure our workers don’t spend any more time than is necessary away from their families and loved ones.

“This report clearly demonstrates a four-day week is not only possible, but preferable. We commend each trailblazing participant on this pilot and encourage others to make the leap – you won’t regret it!”

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