Work: Understanding The 4-day Week In 5 Questions

A proposal put forward by some presidential candidates, the transition to a four-day work week is being debated. We propose to clarify the functioning and the advantages of the 4-day week in 5 questions.

1- What is the principle?

As the name implies, the 4-day week involves reorganizing the weekly workload into four days instead of five, with no loss of pay for employees.

This measure returned to the public debate in 2022, during the presidential campaign but also because of experiments already conducted in France and abroad during the health crisis or before.

2- How is the work organized?

For companies, introducing the 4-day week does not necessarily mean reducing working hours.

Indeed, this measure can take different forms: it can consist of working 35 hours over 4 days or 32 hours over 4 days.

In the second case, moving to 32 hours involves modifying the part-time employment contract and adjusting the employees' hourly rate so that their compensation remains unchanged.

3- Which companies have experimented with it?

In countries as diverse as Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand, and Japan, branches of large corporations such as Unilever or Microsoft have tried the 4-day week with the support of their respective governments.

In 2022, 200 Spanish companies are experimenting with this 32-hour work organization, thanks to financial support from the state.

Pedro Sanchez's government has approved a pilot project allowing companies that wish to do so to implement 32 hours of weekly work spread over 4 days.

In France too, some companies have practiced or are still practicing the 4-day week.

In 1996, the Robien law had allowed 400 companies to go from 39 hours to 32 hours over 4 days by exempting them from unemployment contributions if they increased their workforce by 10 to 15%.

The materials recycling SME Yprema had adopted the 4-day week at the time and retained this organization, even after the Aubry law on the 35 hours.

Today, Yprema is one of the few companies in France that continues to apply the Robien agreements. And this has been beneficial, as it has increased its production capacity and its staff. It currently has 90 employees, compared with 42 in 1997.

4- What are the advantages?

The reorganization of working hours over four days is positive for employees but also for the company.

Employees are the primary winners since they get an extra day off allowing them to plan personal appointments or associative or sports activities.

Employees with children are delighted to spend Wednesday with them, without this measure changing their salary or workload.

Employees therefore gain in quality of life, which reduces their stress level and absenteeism. But companies also benefit because it is a win-win situation.

Indeed, by improving the well-being of employees, the 4-day week increases productivity. Companies that have experimented with it have also found that the absenteeism rate is halved.

Finally, this organization of working time over four days also has an ecological interest. A British study showed that switching to a four-day week with no loss of pay would reduce the UK's carbon footprint by 127 million tons per year by 2025, a decrease of more than 21%.

This way of organizing work actually reduces travel and energy consumption for companies, linked to the presence of staff in offices.

5- Can it be adopted in France?

This work organization remains minority in France. According to statistics from the Ministry of Labor, only 2.4% of full-time employees have a working week of between 32 hours and 35 hours.

Some companies have temporarily adopted this organization due to the health crisis related to the Covid-19 epidemic.

At the beginning of 2022, several presidential candidates said they were in favor of the 4-day week for social and/or ecological reasons.

But, even though this topic has been invited in the 2022 presidential campaign, the Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne excludes that the state can generalize this measure. Indeed, she said that 'we cannot impose such a measure'.

According to Elisabeth Borne, the choice must be left to companies. The implementation of the four-day week, moreover, requires negotiations and, in each company, a company agreement must define the terms of its implementation.

Author: Audrey
Copyright image: Ann0611
Tags: France, presidential, LAW, Labor, ecological, Absenteeism, HEALTH, presidential campaign, stress, Well-being, productivity, win-win situation, Working time, British, carbon footprint, energy consumption, working week, Covid-19 epidemic, impose, sports, associative, TODAY, work week, employment contract, Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, Unilever, Microsoft, Spanish, Pedro Sanchez, Pilot, unemployment, recycling, SME, Elisabeth Borne,
In French: Travail : comprendre la semaine de 4 jours en 5 questions
En español: Trabajo: entender la semana de 4 días en 5 preguntas
Wellness at work: 4 good reasons to put green plants in the office
← Previous Wellness at work: 4 good reasons to put green plants in the office