Germany to try 4-day work week from February 1 for the next six months – Times of India


At a time when most companies are asking their employees to return to office full-time post-pandemic, Germany is all set to try a 4-day work week from February 1, 2024, for the next six months. Germany is currently struggling with a sluggish economy, a lack of skilled workers, and high inflation, as per reports. In such times, the study aims to find out if having a 4-day work week would make employees healthier, happier, and more productive as suggested by labour unions.
The six-month trial for a 4-day work week would begin on February 1, and 45 companies are set to participate in it. The pilot is being led by 4 Day Week Global, a non-profit based in New Zealand.
As per the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in 2022 Germans were unable to work for 21.3 days on average which cost a loss of 207 billion Euros (approximately INR 1,86,55,87,26,60,900). Meanwhile, unhappy employees led to low engagement at work which cost the global economy €8.1 trillion in 2023, reported Bloomberg.
According to 4 Day Week Global, during the trial period, employees would work for fewer hours per week for the same pay, but their output should be the same or more to make it successful. Apart from increased productivity, employees are also expected to take fewer leaves– due to stress, sickness, or burnout. This could in turn help reduce the companies’ and the global economy’s losses.

Germany also has a high proportion of part-time workers in the European Union (EU), and those who advocate the four-day week believe it could help in attracting more untapped potential in this segment.
However, Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner has criticised the idea of a shorter work week as he believes it could threaten their economic growth, according to a Bloomberg report.
But 4 Day Week Global suggests that such experiments in the past in the US, Canada, UK, and Portugal were successful. Workers who participated in the 4-day workweek trials reported better mental and physical health and lesser burnout. Companies participating in a 4-day work week in Germany are expecting similar results.
This is not the first time that a country has implemented or suggested a 4-day work week. In 2022, Belgium became the first country in the EU to make a 4-day work week optional– while the total working hours in the week would be the same as a 5-day work week. Meanwhile, in Japan companies are encouraged to have a 4-day work week so that people can spend time with family, have kids, and spend money– which would boost their economy and aging population.

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