Nearly two out of three public employees are satisfied with the shortening of the working week, according to a survey reported by the BSRB public services federation. The results show that satisfaction is much higher among state and local government employees than among employees in other sectors. A total of 64% of civil servants say they are very or rather satisfied with the cut, with about 17% saying they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and about 18% saying they are very or rather dissatisfied. The difference between sectors appears to relate to the different way in which the cuts in working hours were agreed. In the public sector the hours reductions were implemented automatically while in other sectors the timetable was different and over a fifth of workplace had not yet introduced any changes. The survey also showed that women are much happier with the shortening than men – 62% compared to 45%.
Survey reveals positive impact of shorter working week
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(April 2017) Trade unions have negotiated a one-hour cut to the working week without loss of pay. The standard working week will now be 42 hours although there is a prospect for a further cut to 41.5 hours in upcoming negotiations in the public sector. The initiative recognises that standard working hours are longer than most countries and action is needed to improve work-life balance.
Unions in the UK and Ireland are both making moves towards a four-day week campaign with the TUC's initiative in the UK gaining momentum with support from the Labour Party. The TUC's conference last year put a four-day week on the agenda and last week's Labour Party conference set out the 10-year objective of a 32-hour week without loss of pay. Meanwhile public services union Forsa was the first Irish union to back a new coalition of businesses, environmental and other campaigning organisations to support a Four Day Week Ireland campaign for working time reduction.
Later this month the CMKOS trade union confederation will be debating the prospect of a major initiative on working time, with a proposal to go for a half-hour cut in the standard working day without loss of pay. Unions believe that they are in a good position to make this a key bargaining issue in 2019 with a positive economic outlook and very low unemployment. The cut would mean moving from a standard 42.5-hour working week to 37.5 hours with a 30-minute break.