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Labour and TUC welcome report on four-day work week

LABOUR and unions have welcomed a new report published today that champions the merits of a shorter working week.

Productivity and wellbeing among Britain’s workers would get a boost by employers agreeing to compress work into fewer hours, the report by think tank Autonomy says.

Reducing working hours would also help slash the imbalance between women and men inside and outside the workplace. 

This is because women often shoulder the burden of unpaid housework and childcare — referred to as the “second shift” — and are more likely than men to work lower-paid part-time jobs, it adds. 

Autonomy notes that a shorter working week should be combined with other broad economic policies, such as the integration of automation and technology.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said in response to the report: “This is a vital contribution to the growing debate around free time and reducing the working week.

“With millions saying they would like to work shorter hours, and millions of others without a job or wanting more hours, it’s essential that we consider how we address the problems in the labour market as well as preparing for the future challenges of automation.”

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said fewer work hours would also reduce “consumption for its own sake.”

TUC head of rights, international, social and economics Kate Bell said: “This report clearly puts forward the case for a shorter working week as a realistic ambition, and the critical role of trade unions in helping to achieve it.

“From the eight-hour day to guaranteed bank holidays, the trade union movement has always stood up for working people’s right to take time off.”

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