I’ve been thinking more about the four-day working week I mentioned yesterday, and the more I think about it, the more I think it’s potentially irresponsible to even suggest the notion.
We live in a fast-moving age where there is a lot of stress, and stress is not good for us humans. Not only does it affect the way we form memories, shutting down our hippocampus and forcing memories to be stored as implicit memories, it can have a devastating impact on our brain in general.
It’s one of the reasons I think Universal Basic Income is a good idea, (and is one of the few things I agree with Jeremy Corbyn on) as stress over money is at the core of a lot of domestic abuse, homelessness and suicide. Getting people out of poverty or stress caused by financial issues should, in my view, be one of the key drivers of and government. I firmly believe that any ways we can reduce financial stress and alleviate poverty have to be explored fully (although how to fund it is always problematic, and would have to rely on a bit of a leap of faith that the money will be re-invested back into the economy).
I can’t imagine for one moment that many companies would allow people to drop to a four day week without the accompanying drop in salary, or putting in the extra hours to maintain their salary. I suspect also that lower paid jobs may be open to abuse and forced to reduce their hours (if it were to come to that), while the higher earners would either choose to remain on their full day rate over five days, or find ways to circumvent the system to keep their full pay over four days.
I can only imagine that, should it happen, stress levels of those earning under £30k a year would increase massively, and make things like saving for a house even harder. This would have a knock on effect on the bank of Mum and Dad, and make family relationships more strained.
So, for a would-be Government to propose effectively cutting people’s salaries at a time when the cost of living seems to be going through the roof is somewhat reckless. It might play well in an election, but I have a feeling it won’t play well in reality.
Funnily enough, I haven’t even mentioned the one reason I was going write about – the good old extended order! There’s probably a lot of reasons we settled a five day working week; it’s a system that’s proved itself the winner over time.1