Danielle Ayres: Communication is key when considering a four-day week

As news circulates of the four-day working week trial set to get underway in the UK in the second half of this year, co-ordinated by 4 Day Week Global, both employees and employers alike are starting to wonder whether this would work practically for them.

There are multiple factors to look at when planning to convert staff to a four-day week, especially when you consider that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach: what suits one department or team may not work for another.

As well as considering different areas of the business, attention should be given to any detrimental impact it could have on customers and clients, and how to combat any such issues, before making any changes.

Once a decision has been made to consider a four-day working week, I would advise sitting down with managers and/or department heads to gain input as to how they see it working in practice, for example, looking at rotas to cover all working time, dependent on the working hours and days of the business.

Businesses should also consult and communicate with staff, asking them for suggestions and involving them in the entirety of the process, as this will be a big cultural change for some.

In doing so, they will need to consider each individual employee’s needs, such as childcare commitments or reasonable adjustments, to work out whether the days/hours employees work will remain the same each week.

Before finalising a plan, I would recommend implementing a trial period to see what works and what does not. Employers can also speak to other organisations to learn what has worked for them and try these ideas in their own business.

Most importantly, they should understand that finding the right model will take time and should not be rushed or pushed through quickly.

Communication is key when considering a four-day week. Most people do not like change, especially when it comes out the blue, so it is essential to communicate any changes in policy with staff as soon as possible.

Create a policy to outline what is expected and let employees know decisions that have been made as quickly as possible, including any new boundaries regarding contacting staff on their day off.

Once a four-day week has been officially implemented, it is essential that employers update any and all contracts and policies accordingly.

Danielle Ayres is an employment lawyer at Primas Law