Four-day week suggested
A Senate committee has recommended broad trials of a four-day work week.
The Albanese government has been urged by a Labor-Greens Senate inquiry to review the 38-hour working week and conduct a trial of a four-day week.
The Senate committee report says workplace laws need an overhaul to address the crisis faced by workers with caring responsibilities.
The report recommended that the government request the Fair Work Commission to review the operation of the 38-hour working week in the National Employment Standards, with stricter penalties for long hours and employers obligated to ensure safe working hours.
The report also recommended that the government undertake a trial of a four-day week based on the 100:80:100 model, where employees retain 100 per cent of their salary while reducing their hours to 80 per cent.
Greens Senator and committee chair, Barbara Pocock, said that the report was a blueprint to “revolutionise our workplace laws so Australians, and particularly women, can find a balance between working and caring responsibilities”.
The committee recommended that the government partner with a university to measure the impact of a four-day week on productivity, health and wellbeing, workplace culture, and gender equality. The trial would be implemented in diverse sectors and locations.
Senator Pocock said that the committee had heard evidence from several employers, including one working a four-day week without cutting pay, that giving workers greater control over their rosters can enhance productivity.
However, the proposal, which would reduce hours but not pay, also comes at a time when the workforce is experiencing shortages, and unemployment is at 3.7 per cent.
ALP senators on the committee said that they acknowledge the “fiscal constraints of the moment” and the cost implications of the committee's recommendations.
The report also called for a “right to disconnect” from work outside paid hours, moving towards 52-week paid parental leave, and lifting pay for care workers in childcare, disability, and aged care.
The committee majority also wants a new right to “predictable, stable rosters” and at least two weeks' notice for roster changes, as per its interim report.