More for Four

“A group of cross-party MPs have urged the government to consider a four-day working week for the UK post Covid-19,” the Guardian reports.

Escapologists would welcome such a change, whether we happen to still be in work or if we’ve escaped and simply hope for better conditions and less work time for our incarcerated friends.

We have, of course, been here before. There have been moments where it felt like traction was being made on a four-day workweek, the idea being championed by high-level think tanks or being weighed up by eminently sensible economists. So let’s not hold our breath.

There is the fact, however, as the article points out, that “work patterns have already been dramatically altered as a result of the pandemic,” and there are many discussions taking place around post-Covid economic recovery so it seems likely that champions for a shorter working week are more likely to be listened to at this moment.

I’d point out as well that a modest reduction in weekly work is perfectly in line with historical progress. The labour movement agitated first for a cap on weekly hours worked, then for a weekend, and then for paid vacations and paid ill-health or parental leave. Another day off seems like the next reasonable step.

I’d also point out the idea that a society’s wealth might not, in a dignified future, be measured solely by GDP but also by the amount of free time a citizen is afforded.

Who knows? As ever, we watch with baited breath.

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About

Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

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