Individual companies are the ones leading the charge toward a four-day work week. Often, it’s the choice of the employer to offer a four-day work week as a benefit to its employees, to attract or retail talent, or help improve the work-life balance for its team. Mostly, this movement comes through the private sector.
But there is a push for the four-day work week in the public sector, too. In most scenarios, this means that a bill would be proposed and voted on to change the legal definition of a full-time worker from five days to four. In some cases, it’s a change proposed for the government workers themselves. In others, it is a proposal for all people working in the state.
Here are all of the countries that have announced that they’ll implement a four-day work week as a trial or permanently. You’ll see I included city-, state-, and county-governments as well to give a full picture of the movement from the public sector. I’ll update the list every time a notable announcement comes out.
Which countries have a four-day work week?
"The trials were conducted between 2015 and 2019, initiated by the Reykjavik City Council and the Icelandic national government.
City Of Morgantown, WV (City)
For the next year a large majority of workers employed by the City of Morgantown will be working four days a week.
'Employees will work their 40 hours in four days or four 10-hour days,' she said."
Boulder County, CO (County)
"Six Boulder County offices and departments will begin shifting to a four-day work week beginning in 2021.
The move is part of the county's four-day work week pilot program that will analyze the productivity, public satisfaction and cost savings after the four-month trial concludes in April 2021."
"The country’s annual economic policy guidelines, released this month, unveiled plans to push employers to adopt four-day workweeks, marking official acceptance of a once-fringe approach..."
Proposed: September 1, 2021
"Scotland plans to launch a trial four-day workweek. The decision was the culmination of a campaign promise made by the ruling Scottish National Party. Workers will have their hours reduced by 20%, but won’t suffer any loss in compensation. The program will be funded by the SNP with a £10 million fund ($13.8 million U.S.)."
"So far, 20 companies have signed up to the six-month pilot, which will involve them trialing a reduction of working hours from February 2022."
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is moving federal employees to a four-and-a-half day work week to "boost productivity and improve work-life balance," the government announced Tuesday.
"Progressives in Congress are lining up behind a bill that would shrink a regular week of work from 40 hours to 32 — bringing the four-day work week to America.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus just endorsed the aptly named "32-Hour Workweek Act," according to a statement from Rep. Mark Takano, the Democrat representing California's 41st district.
"The U.K. pilot of a four-day work week will begin in June with about 30 companies that have so far signed up for the trial. The six-month long program will see firms allowing staff to work 32 hours per week while leaving their compensation and benefits unchanged."
In the table, you’ll see a few different classifications in the “policy” column. Some governments are trialing a four-day work week, while others have made it permanent. Some work 40 hours over four days, while others work 32 hours.
See Also: Every Company Doing A 4-Day Work Week
Which countries might come next?
Let’s call this our honorable mention section.
Below, you’ll see a list of countries where notable politicians have unofficially recommended or acknowledged that a four-day work week could be a benefit for the country. There are no official bills or laws in place, but these countries are the best candidates to turn up on our official list next.
- India has new labor laws they’ll vote on in 2022 that include a switch to a four-day, 48-hour work week (a compressed schedule, not reduced)
- The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, unofficially encouraged employers to consider a shorter work week in a Facebook video
- Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland, discussed on a panel how a four-day, 24-hour-work week could be the future
- The Ontario Liberal Party (Canada) says they’ll launch a test program if elected in June of 2022
Our Definitions For 4-Day Work Week Country Policies
Here’s how we define the four-day work week policies you see in that column:
- Permanent: The country has four work days each week indefinitely.
- Trial: The country is experimenting with a four-day week over a fixed time period.
- 32, 36, 40 Hours: Employees work these amount of hours each week spread over the four working days.
- 4.5 Day Week: The policy includes working a half-day on Friday (not fully a four-day work week).
- Recommendation: This is an officially released recommendation from the government to companies, but nothing is mandated.
- Non-Government: This is a movement across the country, but not sanctioned by the government.
- Bill: This is a proposal law that has yet to be voted on.
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