Thursday 12 September 2019 12:31 pm

Four-day working week ‘unrealistic’, finds Labour-backed report

A four-day working week is unrealistic, according to a Labour party-commissioned report that undermines a policy the party is considering.

Shadown chancellor John McDonnell tweeted that “something must change” after Lord Robert Skidelsky’s report said a reduction in working hours “is both desirable ethically and desired by most people”.

Read more: John McDonnell poised to back widening of UK financial tax

But the report stopped short of recommending capping people’s hours. It said such a move “is not realistic or even desirable” due to different sectors’ requirements of staff.


“Millions work long hours, while others don’t get the regular hours they need. Something must change,” McDonnell said.

“I’d like to thank Lord Skidelsky for his report which we will study & draw on when looking at how to reduce the typical working week without loss of pay.”

Skidelsky called the UK’s capitalist structure “an offence to the gods” and accused the financial system of making economic growth “an end in itself”.

“Material wealth is the means to a better life, not the better life itself,” his report concluded.

However, his report found that a policy slashing back the working week to four days could be “ineffective”.

“Rather, a general reduction in working hours should be seen as a culmination of other policies and changes in the norms of work,” the report, titled ‘How to achierve shorter working hours’, found.

Read more: Would waving goodbye to the five-day working week really be a good idea?


A four-day working week without a cut in pay is one of several grassroots Momentum policies McDonnell is expected to look at for inclusion in Labour’s election manifesto.

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