Canada

Benefits of a 4-day work week promoted by BC Greens, local businesses

BC Greens say it's time for the provincial government to incentivize a four-day work week with tax breaks.  (Kevin Van Paassen/Bloomberg - photo credit)

BC Greens say it’s time for the provincial government to incentivize a four-day work week with tax breaks. (Kevin Van Paassen/Bloomberg – photo credit)

Switching to a four-day workweek used to be considered a non-starter for most institutions or companies.

But the idea is being backed by local businesses that have been trying it, as well as the BC Green Party, which is calling on the government to launch a province-wide pilot with a four-day workweek to help workers find a better work-life balance , received positively.

‚ÄúPeople are exhausted trying to keep up with rising living costs, inadequate health care and working through a pandemic. Business owners and managers are facing significant labor shortages and are struggling to retain employees,” said Sonia Furstenau, leader of the BC Green Party.

Leena Yousefi, founder of YLaw Group in Vancouver, said her company successfully introduced a four-day work week two years ago. The goal, she said, is to stave off burnout and psychological and family issues that are common in the legal sector.

“I kind of looked at the numbers and said, ‘You know, if I’m making 10 or 20 percent less for my people being happier and breathing, then I’ll accept it,'” she said. “But the result is that we actually make more money working four days a week.”

Men in Kilts exterior cleaning company went to a four-day work week to deal with workers’ exhaustion and burnout.

“We heard stories and we talked about the four-day work week… and that seemed like the extraordinary answer, so we went for it,” said Men in Kilts general manager Jason Roberts. “It’s been about nine months now and we’ve found that we’ve at least met and maybe even exceeded production.”

According to Roberts, Men in Kilts staff now work eight hours a day, Monday through Thursday, with Friday, Saturday and Sunday off each week.

“For us, the purpose of the four-day week is to work less and live more,” he said.

“The tide is turning,” says the BC Greens’ MLA

At YLaw, employees work nine hours on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with a 90-minute break for lunch.

“We took a slightly different path,” Yousefi said. “We take Wednesdays off because we find if we take three days off in a row we’re just catching up on all the emails and inquiries on Mondays.”

In the UK, 56 out of 61 companies that took part in a recently completed six-month trial of the four-day work week have opted to continue with the scheme, including 18 companies that have made it permanent.

According to an article in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the pilot’s director said that in each case, business productivity was either maintained or improved, with an increase in employee well-being.

The BC Greens say it’s time for the provincial government to incentivize a four-day work week with tax breaks.

“People can be more flexible about where they live and make up for long commutes to the office,” said Green MLA Adam Olsen. “The tide is turning in the business community in Canada, and many companies are saying the four-day work week is inevitable.”

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