Is it time for a four-day work week?

A doctor in the UK has advocated reducing the working week to four days to help reduce stress, and cut unemployment.

The UK Guardian reported that Professor John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health (FPH), said that a four-day week could help ease mental issues related to overwork or lack of work, and physical health issues including high blood pressure.

Ashton said the five-day week should be phased out to end “a maldistribution of work”.

“When you look at the way we lead our lives, the stress that people are under, the pressure on time and sickness absence, [work-related] mental health is clearly a major issue,” Dr Ashton said.

“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,” Ashton said.

“We’ve got a maldistribution of work. The lunch-hour has gone; people just have a sandwich at their desk and carry on working,” he added.

“We need a four-day week so that people can enjoy their lives, have more time with their families, and maybe reduce high blood pressure because people might start exercising on that extra day,” the doctor said.

Ashton highlighted a disparity between people working too many hours during a week, and those people who do not work at all.

According to South Africa law, workers may not work more than an average of 45 hours a week, and accrue an average of 5 hours’ overtime a week.

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Is it time for a four-day work week?