Ardern now proposing a four day working week

On Tuesday the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern proposed having more public holidays to help promote internal tourism to aid recovery from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. That was criticised, including by NZ First – see Extra public holiday proposal squashed by NZ First.

Yesterday Ardern upped the ante, suggesting changing to a four day working week to help boost retail recovery.

NZ Herald:  Jacinda Ardern floats four-day working week as part of recovery

New Zealand is considering introducing a four-day working week to help boost domestic tourism, productivity and employment after the Covid-19 crisis battered the economy.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern flagged the idea of using the shorter working week and additional public holidays as part of a “nimble” and creative approach to resuscitating the economy.

Ardern pointed out the pandemic had taught the country much about productivity as workers adjusted to lockdown.

“I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day work week,” she said.

“Ultimately, that really sits between employers and employees. But as I’ve said there’s just so much we’ve learnt about Covid and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that,” Ardern said.

“Think about if that’s something that would work for your workplace, because it certainly would help tourism all around the country.”

This suggests the Government isn’t considering making a four day week mandatory, but more that companies could consider it.

The issue was raised in January: Government holds back support for four-day working week

The four-day week has been promoted in New Zealand by Perpetual Guardian, which found that it boosted productivity among its staff by 20 per cent.

Finland’s new Prime Minister Sanna Marin has reportedly called for the introduction of a flexible working schedule that would involve a four-day-week and six-hour working day.

Charlotte Lockhart, chief executive of 4 Day Week, the company set up to publicise the concept, said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should follow Marin’s lead.

Legislating for a four-day week would be difficult, she said, because of the variables involved.

But Ardern could make a significant difference by indicating her support. “It would be great if she made even a public statement … to come out and say there’s real merit in this and we’d like to engage in the process.”

There was widespread support for the idea around the world, she said.

For some businesses it may boost productivity and cut costs, but for other businesses it would likely reduce custom, for example in hospitality, tourism and retail, who tend to operate seven day weeks.

Employment Minister Willie Jackson said it was not part of the Government’s work programme.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the Government supported workers and businesses working together to make their workplaces more flexible.

Ardern is now suggesting that companies consider four day weeks and more working from home, but there’s no sign of the Government making it compulsory.

Some employees are already on four day weeks anyway due to a reduction in hours (and pay) due to Covid.

Website: 4 day week