Despite increases in technological efficiencies, the average hours of workers globally are on the rise and employees’ work-life balance is suffering—particularly in the United Kingdom. According to recent studies, the average full-time worker logs an average of 37.5 hours per week, and the UK’s average work hours are higher than most of its EU counterparts. Nearly 70 percent of people currently work more than 35 hours a week in the United Kingdom, and nearly 25 percent work more than 45 hours. There is an argument, however, that this type of growth is unsustainable. Population growth coupled with increases in automation are changing the workforce and might be cause for restructuring. For the sake of argument, if the United Kingdom were to have “full” employment of 80 percent, but those full-time employees only worked four days a week, it would create the opportunity for 122,000 more full-time or 240,000 part-time jobs, based on current hours worked patterns. However, this is simply a thought experiment, and few workers would likely accept a 20 percent decrease in pay. But in an era of rising income inequality, there is something to be said for a world with full employment and better work-life balance.
Could a 4-Day Work Week Be in the Near Future?