How to win a four day week this August

With the four day week gaining momentum in the UK, a new campaign is lobbying for companies to trial a four day month this August.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young
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After a gruelling start to the business calendar, UK employees are already dreaming of a restful summer this year – a wish that could be granted by moving to a four day workweek.

Appetite for the four day week, where staff work one day less for the same pay, has never been higher. Startups’ research shows that more than one in ten businesses plan to adopt the policy this year; and August could be the ideal month to kickstart their ambitions.

As a new campaign, ‘4ugust’, encourages bosses to test out the employee benefit for the entire month this summer, we explain how UK workers can gain buy-in from their employers.

What is 4ugust?

4ugust is an annual initiative that has been launched by the four day week campaign group, 4 Day Week Campaign and workplace think tank, Autonomy. 2024 marks the first year the campaign will be run.

Companies that choose to take part in the initiative can give their staff a four-day week, while keeping salaries the same, for the whole month of August. Alongside the bank holiday in the final week, this amounts to just four additional days off: a mini trial.

The partnership made the announcement following positive results from a previous six-month pilot (overseen by Autonomy) in the UK in 2022. 

18 months on, 54 of the 61 companies that took part in the landmark trial have maintained the four-day week policy for teams.

For organisations that have heard about the benefits of a four day week, but feel unsure about the impact of losing a whole workday, August provides the ideal setting to test it out. 

Workplaces are typically less productive during the month as working parents take time off during the school holidays. 

Major employers like PwC and ASOS – and even the UK government – close offices or offer reduced summer working hours in August, meaning disruption can be kept to a minimum.

How to get your boss on board

Last year, Startups conducted an extensive survey into employee attitudes to the four day week, following the results of the Autonomy pilot.

The results were conclusive: UK workers are strongly in favour of a four day week and excited about the benefits it could bring to work-life balance and reducing stress.

However, confidence in employer implementation was the biggest barrier to the policy being successfully rolled out across the UK workforces. 78% of employees want a four-day week, but only 30% are optimistic their employer could successfully implement it.

Seemingly out of desperation, more than half of respondents told us they would change jobs to be able to work a four day week. Workers must not jump ship yet, however. 2024 has a few tricks up its sleeve to win over sceptical bosses.

Flexible Working bill

One advantage that four day week proponents have been given this year is the introduction of the government’s Flexible Working bill, which will become legislation in April.

Under the new legislation, employees have been given greater powers to request flexible working terms – including a four day week – from day one of their employment.

Submitting a request for a four day week this year is the perfect time to ignite a conversation about 4ugust with key decision makers such as CEOs or HR heads.

During the process, you will need to submit a formal appeal in writing, clearly stating that you are making a statutory flexible working request. It’s a good idea to include supporting documentation that can help your case, such as:

How to trial a four day week this summer

Organisations that are already sold on the four day week can start preparing now for August to improve their chances of the policy being rolled out successfully.

For example, employers need to agree changes to working hours and patterns with staff and write these into existing contracts whether on a temporary basis or as permanent changes. 

Customer heads might also need to plan for changes to their contact hours; whether that means using AI technology might plug the gaps or closing help desks for one day a week.

The good thing is that a test period is just that: a test. Whatever your findings are from the trial you can rest assured the policy will end in just four weeks, so it’s the best chance to investigate the short-term impact without having to worry about long-term implications.

Joe Ryle, Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “4ugust is an exciting opportunity for organisations to experiment with a four-day week in a mini trial.

“Many companies already operate with summer working hours so this is just one small step further. We’re confident that many companies will sign-up to take part and then get to see the benefits of a four-day week for themselves.”

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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