John Ashton calls for four-day work week

Professor John Ashton, a prominent NHS director of public health, has called for a four-day work week on the grounds that it will reduce the nation’s blood pressure, create more time for public service and time with friends, and lower unemployment. He says:

When you look at the way we lead our lives, the stress that people are under, the pressure on time and sickness absence, [work-related] mental health is clearly a major issue. We should be moving towards a four-day week because the problem we have in the world of work is you’ve got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven’t got jobs. We’ve got a maldistribution of work. The lunch-hour has gone; people just have a sandwich at their desk and carry on working.

This is excellent news and a rare example of someone of such establishment renown speaking like this:

We need a four-day week so that people can enjoy their lives, have more time with their families, and maybe reduce high blood pressure because people might start exercising on that extra day […] It would mean that people might smile more and be happier, and improve general health.

Would Brits stick to a four-day work week? Pleasingly, 89% of people who responded to the Guardian’s reader survey said they would welcome a four-day week. Perhaps the desire for maximum busyness is not as widespread as it might sometimes seem.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

2 Responses to “John Ashton calls for four-day work week”

  1. Spoonman says:

    Wow, an 89% response in favor is huge. Maybe the rest of the western world will follow. I think countries like Korea and Japan would benefit even more from a similar setup.

  2. Win says:

    I’m working a 10 hour work week, unfortunately spread over five days but for only 39 weeks a year (I work in a school).
    Frankly I wouldn’t be working at all if I didn’t have a lovely
    teenager to support. She makes it all worthwhile.
    I’d be fully retired by now if the Government hadn’t kept
    moving the goalposts.

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