One of Britain’s leading doctors, Professor John Ashton, has said that people should work four days a week, not five. His reasoning revolves around mental and physical well-being,
“We should be moving towards a four-day week, because the problem we have in the world of work is you’ve got a proportion of the population who are working too hard and a proportion that haven’t got jobs.”
The main reasons people consider this move is to spend more time with their children, to study/learn other skills, to recover from poor health or (more increasingly) to reduce stress. This sounds like good enough reasoning, but just how practical is it to drop a day of work?
The first thing to consider if you want to work a four-day week is how you will cope with a 20% pay cut. For many, this is too much, but for some, the amount they would save in childcare costs or commuting bills can make it worthwhile.
A cut in salary may also make you eligible for child benefit, which is certainly a consideration for those with children. You may also be entitled to working tax credits, however you are advised to check this with a financial adviser.
For self-employed people, there may not be a pay-cut, depending on the nature of the business and how well established it is. For creative types a day away from the office can lead to better results in terms of creative thinking when you get back to the office.
You are however advised to consider your pension and any savings/investments. These will take a hit if your pay is reduced, so think about ways you can continue to save while working less.
If you commute to work by car or train, working one less day will save you money. If you drive, you will save on petrol costs (and you might reduce your insurance costs too if you are able to declare a lower annual mileage).
If you are a rail season-ticket holder, that savings aren’t quite as clear-cut. Currently part-time workers must either buy a season ticket and lose out on the days they don’t use it, or pay for individual peak-time tickets, which are more expensive. At the moment, the only way around this is to pay by carnet tickets, which normally offer 10 journeys for the price of nine and are valid from three to six months. Often train companies won’t advertise these, so check with the company that operates your train line to find out if your route is eligible.
Alternatively, consider changing your times of travel. Instead of working four days a week, work your usual five – but start later to reduce overall hours and cost of travel.
Will your employer let you work part-time?
New rules state that all employees are eligible to request flexible working – find out more on our recent blog post.