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Pros and Cons of a Four-Day Workweek

By  Jul 30, 2020

Everyone loves a three-day weekend, but would you love it as much if you had one all the time? A four-day workweek sounds like a great idea, but it’s certainly not for everyone. These are the pros and cons you need to take into consideration before switching to a four-day workweek.

Four-Day Workweek

The typical full-time workweek for Americans is eight hours a day, five days per week. When you move to a four-day workweek, you will need to work 40 hours, but you only work four days and 10 hours per day. You don’t have to have all employees work a four-day week - you can decide who works this schedule based on the needs of your business and employee wants.

The additional day off doesn’t have to be a Monday or Friday - although your employees might prefer this schedule over others. You can determine which day of the week would be taken off based on employee preference and business operations.

With an employee time clock app, you can quickly determine who would be best suited for the four-day workweek and schedule regular shifts to ensure any days off are fully covered.

Four-Day Workweek Pay

If an employee is exempt and not eligible for overtime pay, then there is no pay issue associated with a shortened workweek. Exempt employees receive the same amount of pay every week, regardless of the number of hours or days worked.

If an employee is non-exempt, the employee is eligible for overtime pay. In the United States, an employee is eligible for overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. The pay for an employee who works five days a week and eight hours a day would be the same for an employee who works for ten-hour days.

However, in some states such as California, an employee receives overtime pay after working eight hours in a single day. So an employee who is non-exempt and resides in the state of California working a four-day workweek would receive 32 hours of regular pay and eight hours of overtime pay every week.



Four-Day Workweek Vacation

Many businesses talk about vacation in terms of hours or days. If every worker in an office works a four-day workweek, the day term is fine, but you should be careful if you have employees working a traditional workweek and some working a different schedule.

Rather than stating employees get 15 days of vacation, refer to it as “120 hours.” This way, it’s clear that a person working four 10 hour days gets three weeks of vacation. By not using this language, employees could easily claim they’re owed 120 hours of vacation.

Typically, laws allow a business to develop its vacation policy. But once that policy is developed, companies are required to adhere to it, so make sure that your vacation policy outlines precisely what time off is to be provided to employees.

Four-Day Workweek Pros

The advantages that come with a four-day workweek are pretty clear; having an additional day with no work or commute can free up personal time. The employee isn’t the only one who can benefit from a reduced workweek.

Several studies have shown various benefits that come with shortened workweek, such as increased productivity, happier employees, and higher engagement. If an employee is thinking about quitting, they have to take into account giving up an extra day off per week and may reconsider the switch. This can significantly help reduce turnover and labor costs.

Four-Day Workweek Cons

The four-day workweek doesn’t work well for every business, and it’s not for every employee. If your customers have frequent communication with your staff and expect them to be available five days a week, having an employee who is unavailable Monday or Friday could cause problems.

A four-day workweek can also make finding proper childcare more challenging. Most daycares and after-school programs work around the idea that parents work from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. They typically don’t open at 6:00 am and stay open until late at night to accommodate a parent’s unique work schedule.

While people may feel refreshed after having an extra day off work, they may experience a drop in productivity after working 10 hours in a single day. To monitor productivity, you can use time clock app to determine how much time an employee is spending on a specific task and compare that data to employees who are working regular hours.

For exempt employees who are working a four-day workweek, they may feel obligated to join meetings or respond to emails on their day off. If this occurs, you will need to asses whether the alternative schedule is negatively impacting the employees’ team.

Should You Implement a Four-Day Workweek?

The answer to this depends on your employee’s wants and business needs. If you have employee’s asking about a four-day workweek, then it makes sense to look and see if it would be beneficial for your business and the employee to implement the new schedule.

Again, you should use your current time clock app to determine if it makes financial and operational sense to move a worker to a four-day workweek. If you move an employee to a four-day workweek, do you have enough employees to cover on their day off?

If you’re still not sold on the idea, perhaps try a temporary run for a few weeks or months to see how it works for your business. Flexibility is a huge benefit that many employees look for from an employer, and having a four-day workweek option makes you desirable to many job seekers.


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