The Victorian government will consider the benefits of a four-day working week if it wins the election later this year, as the workplace revolution continues to gain steam.
Victorians will head to the polls in November, with the incumbent Labor government likely to maintain power.
The Age has obtained Labor’s draft platform which it will take to the election, comprising a suite of policies the party will look to implement in its next term in office.
According to the document, the draft platform says Labor will be “considering the social and gender equity benefits of a reduced working week with no loss of income”.
The platform will be finalised this month, with a number of election promises to come.
At the state level, influential Reason Party leader Fiona Patten has been pushing for the four-day work week for several years, taking it to the last election.
Patten has welcomed the Andrews government’s consideration of the policy.
“It is the logical, rational next step in the reduction in working hours and improvements in conditions that have been happening since the industrial revolution began more than 250 years ago,” Patten said.
Patten earlier this year called for a trial within the Victorian public service.
“The potential to simultaneously improve working conditions, work-life balance and productivity is huge; the Victorian public service accounts for about one in 10 of the state’s jobs,” she said.
“We risk little by conducting a simple, limited trial, but much should we ignore the opportunity. It’s healthy for the economy, society and the environment. It gives people freedom and control.”
Victorian Industry Support Minister Ben Carroll appeared to pour cold water on the concept after the draft plan was leaked, saying there are “no plans” to introduce such a policy.
“It’s just a policy draft that’s been emailed to literally thousands of people, and there are no plans to change the working week,” Carroll said.
“But we recognise too that Victorians are often now working on a hybrid model, two days at home, three days in the workplace. We’re trying to continue to support Victorians in any way we can to go about their working lives and their family lives.
“I’ve got no announcements to make…but we’ll continue to work with Victorians, work with stakeholders and give feedback on working from home, making different changes to different policy settings around public transport to support them and do what we need to do.”
The concept of working 80 percent of the week for 100 percent pay while still maintaining 100 percent productivity is gaining momentum around the world, including in Australia.
At the start of August, more than a dozen Australian companies began a six month trial of a four-day working week, led by not-for-profit 4 Day Week Global.
This is in partnership with researchers from the Auckland University of Technology, University of Queensland, University of Sydney and Boston College.
A similar trial has also launched in the United Kingdom, with 3,300 workers from 70 countries taking part in it.
The concept has already been proven to be effective, with studies showing no drop in productivity but vast increases in employee satisfaction and happiness.
Iceland has undertaken the biggest global trial of the concept so far, running from 2015 to 2019 with 2500 public sector workers involved. That study found no drop in productivity but a significant increase in employee wellbeing, with workers reporting feeling less stressed and less at risk of burnout, with increases to health and work-life balance.
At the federal level, Greens Senator David Shoebridge also backed the concept of a four-day working week, saying there’s no reason Australia couldn’t do it following the recently announced public holiday to mark the Queen’s death.
“During our current cost of living, burnout, mental health and climate crisis, introducing a four-day work week is more important than ever to support people’s wellbeing,” Shoebridge tweeted.
“Generally, the only opposition for this idea comes from major corporations and CEOs, the major parties and billionaires.”