A six-month trial period for a four-day working week started at over 70 UK-based businesses on 6 June 2022. The businesses involved are located nationwide and they range in size from small scale local businesses to large financial firms. The programme promotes the 100:80:100 model: 100% of pay for staff to work 80% of the time in return for a commitment to maintain 100% productivity.

For employers considering a four-day working week, there will inevitably be practical challenges to overcome. However, there will also be legal implications. B P Collins’ employment team has put together a list of points relating to two key legal considerations employers making the shift might want to think about: employment contracts and part-time employees.

Employment contracts

  • If an employer implements a four-day week, it should ensure its employees’ employment contracts are updated accordingly. For example, if an employee’s existing contract states that they will work a five-day week, the employer should seek the employee’s agreement in writing to vary or change the relevant clause of the employee’s contract.
  • In the case of a trial period, employers should ensure the contractual change can be reversed if a four-day week proves unsuccessful for their business.
  • Employers should be aware that an employee does not have to agree to an amendment in the terms of their contract. If an employee resists a proposed change, the employer should seek legal advice on the best way forward before making a decision themselves.

Part-time employees

  • Employers should carefully consider how shifting to a four-day week might affect part-time employees or those who have previously made flexible working requests. Changes in working time and pay for these employees should be thoroughly planned beforehand.
  • For example, a sensible approach might be to offer a part-time employee, who has a three-day working week, three-quarters of a full-time employee’s salary rather than three-fifths to avoid that employee being disadvantaged compared to a full-time employee. Similarly, an employer might propose a pro-rata reduction in the part-time employee’s hours by 20% to match the arrangement in place for full-time employees.
  • Employers should be conscious of the impact that a four-day week might have on their wage bill and, importantly, they should ensure that part-time employees are not treated any less favourably than full-time employees should a shift be made.

If you have any questions about this article, the four-day working week or any other employment matter, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Employment team at enquiries@bpcollins.co.uk or call 01753 889995.

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