View Full Version : UK Think Tank Recommends 21 Hour Work Week

Play The Man
02-27-2010, 02:55 AM

A report by the New Economic Foundation (NEF), an influential think tank, has recommended that the working week should be shortened to just 21 hours.

The NEF argues that this radical change would help to tackle a number of current problems, including over-consumption, high unemployment, inequality and poor work/life balance.

The effects of the potential pension time-bomb which the UK could be facing in the future would also be lessened, as working less hours a week should ensure that employees remain fit enough to work in later life. (http://www.ashbycohen.co.uk/employees.aspx)

As an example of how this could work, the report points to Utah, where the state decided in 2008 to put all public-sector workers on a four-day week, and made significant energy savings, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

It also stated that 21 hours is already close to the average length of time spent in employment.

Andrew Simms, joint author of the report, said: "A lot of this is already happening. Job sharing is common practice ... It's going to be increasing. Maybe we'll have less income and more time.

"Other than the benefit of having more time, what will happen is a reduction in inequality and the potential to be better-quality friends, partners and parents engaging more with communities.

"There is this issue of people retiring and their lives collapse. So this is a good opportunity for people to fulfil themselves. We are not saying this should be imposed. We're suggesting that this should be more of a norm."

Commenting on the report, a spokesperson for the Institute of Directors noted that many employers in the UK already offer "flexible working arrangements".

"Work/life balance for employees is something our members take seriously because they see benefits to people's lives," the spokesman explained. He added that many businesses need continuity, which would not be maintained by an increase in part-time labour.

The report makes the point that, despite the spread of personal computers- which were intended to give us more leisure time away from the office - many people now work longer hours than they did 30 years ago. Since 1981, households with two adults have added an average of six hours to their weekly workload.