Labour Party 4 Day Week Manifesto
Explore UK Labor’s Party 4 Day Week 2019 Manifesto: An in-depth analysis of its implications, significance, and alternative views.
Interest in a four-day workweek is rising globally, including in the UK. In 2022, a trial involving 61 UK companies ended with 90% of participating businesses sticking with a four-day workweek.
Reflecting the growing interest in the UK, the Labor Party included a four-day workweek proposal in their 2019 election manifesto.
Today, we will delve into the specifics of their proposal, exploring its implications and significance and examining critiques and alternative perspectives.
A Glance at Major Key Terms
Before we delve into the Labor Party’s four-day week manifesto, let’s define some key terms for clarity.
The Labor Party is a center-left British political party historically associated with the trade union movement. Ideologically, the party is linked with social democracy and democratic socialism.
The party has played a significant role in British politics since the 1910s. Around this time, Labor superseded the once flourishing Liberal Party to become the primary opposition to the Conservative Party, a position they have maintained ever since.
4-Day Work Week
A four-day work week involves employees working one less day than the usual 5/2 work week. The most common schedule is Monday to Thursday, with employees taking Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off.
However, other variations of the four-day workweek exist, such as working Tuesday to Friday and taking Monday off.
The benefits of a 4-day work week for both employees and employers are numerous and include:
- Increased worker productivity
- Reduced stress and fatigue among employees
- Happier employees
- Companies can attract more talent
- Lowers company expenses
Manifestos establish the beliefs of an individual or group and outline how their plans might work on a practical level. In a political context, they are public declarations of party goals, intentions, and policies.
A political party’s manifesto is unlikely to include overly-detailed planning, as these documents act as long-form theses and may not feature explicit and specified proposals.
For example, a political manifesto may reference increased paid time off and present a rough idea of introducing this without providing exact details.
Explore the UK Labor Party’s 2019 Manifesto
The UK Labor Party’s 2019 manifesto unveiled an ambitious goal: to establish an average working week of 32 hours in the UK by 2029, aimed at addressing the issue of excessive working hours.
Ahead of the previous UK general election in December 2019, the party presented a comprehensive plan to achieve this objective, which included the following key measures:
- Eliminating the EU Working Time Directive’s opt-out provision allows employers to have employees work more than 48 hours if they agree to it.
- Establishing an independent Working Time Commission dedicated to safeguarding workers’ rights and empowered to enhance statutory leave entitlement.
- Facilitating the creation of bargaining councils to negotiate reduced working hours.
- Making strategic investments to boost productivity while ensuring workers benefit from increased work outputs.
Since 2019, the Labor Party’s changed leadership, so we can’t say how likely a similar proposal will appear in the party’s next manifesto.
However, with a successful four-day workweek trial involving 61 businesses in the UK in 2022 and an overwhelming 4 in 5 people in the UK supporting the concept, there is a strong possibility that this proposal will resurface ahead of the next election, likely in 2025.
Aside from that, a four-day work week remains part of the UK Greens’ programs, and it is the official policy for Welsh center-left to left-wing party Plaid Cymru.
Labor’s Manifesto Implications and Significance
Returning to Labor’s manifesto, as well as recent trials and motions, additional Labor interest in a four-day work week includes:
- Labor MP Peter Dowd tabled a bill to implement a 32-hour work week in autumn last year.
- The Labor-led council of South Cambridgeshire achieved success with a 12-month trial of a 30-hour work week, resulting in a remarkable 60% reduction in worker stress.
Labor’s commitment to a four-day workweek is significant as it realistically represents the UK’s only chance for its introduction within the coming decade.
This is because the Conservative Party is unlikely to support a shorter work week while in power, as evidenced by their criticism of Labor’s 4-day plan in 2019, citing potential expenses to the NHS.
Also, given the nature of UK politics, no vital signs exist that a third party will see sufficient growth to form a government in any election soon.
As mentioned, the UK public is a fan of the four-day workweek, but only time will tell whether Labor’s 2019 manifesto proposal or something similar will come into law later this decade.
Critique or Alternative Perspectives
While many favor a four-day workweek in the UK, it remains a subject of debate, with plenty of opposition and critics.
Let’s explore an array of critiques and alternative perspectives:
As shown in the graph above, 92% of companies participating in the UK 4 Day Week Global trial supported continuing a four-day work week. Still, less than one in three agreed with making the policy permanent.
Economic historian Robert Skidelsky’s report acknowledged that working fewer hours without a reduction in pay could improve “material and spiritual well-being.” However, he also pointed out that a legally-enforced four-day workweek was neither realistic nor desirable.
The Adam Smith Institute expressed concerns that enforcing fewer working hours would inevitably reduce employee earnings.
4-Day Workweek Potential Downsides
Some specific disadvantages warrant further exploration, which may or may not apply in practice.
Industry Specificity: While a four-day work week is well-suited for some industries, it may be impractical for others, such as emergency services and public transport networks.
Employee Preferences: Implementing a universal four-day workweek requirement for all sectors poses challenges. Considering that some workers prefer the traditional 9 to 5, five-day work week, a mandated four-day work week risks negatively affecting employees who choose the current schedule.
Neither of the above issues renders all four-day workweek laws implausible, but they complicate matters.
Ultimately, for a four-day workweek law to succeed, each government must tailor it to their country’s culture and socio-economic framework, factoring in specific considerations.
The 4-day work week has potential in the UK, but only time will tell whether Labor’s 2019 manifesto proposal will come to fruition in the UK. This largely depends on future elections and the party’s continued interest in the idea.
While national policy may be beyond our control, each of us has the potential to take charge of our career paths and introduce a ‘four-day week policy’ to our lives.
If you’re ready to seek your dream job, apply for four-day week roles. At 4 Day Week, you’ll find numerous remote positions, many of which feature a 32-hour work week, perfect for creating a much better work-life balance