I’m not sure who else worked on Labour Day this year but since Labour Day is supposed to be a day to celebrate workers, it is crazy how poorly those workers are treated not only on Labour Day and long weekends like Labour Day weekend but every day. I’ve done a lot of reading about other places around the world trying out four-day work weeks or trying out less hours of work per day and experiencing really great results with people’s mental health, physical health, and especially their work performance. I think it’s so important that we look at these options as we enter a mental health crisis post Covid; prioritizing our mental health is crucial at this time.
So far Spain as well as New Zealand and Finland have experimented with four-day work weeks and the results were great. Back in 2015, Microsoft experimented with the four-day work week and reported that productivity climbed up to 40% compared to the previous year. This four-day work week did not include any pay cuts, so workers didn’t lose out on any money made. I think that this shows how positive the four-day work week would be for the rest of the world and how positively it would affect every single area of labourers.
Personally, working this summer 5 to 6 days a week for 10+ hours has me feeling extremely burnt out right before the school year and I still have to work through the school year to support myself and pay bills. It’s really frustrating how much we actually have to work, how much time we miss out on doing important things and spending time with the people in our lives because we have to be at work. I’ve always found it frustrating how much of your time you give to work to make enough money to pay your bills. This also ties into the conversation around liveable wages and a liveable minimum wage so that young people and people who work these minimum wage jobs can support themselves, and if they need to take time off for whatever reason they can do so without worrying about how they’re going to pay their bills that month.
With all of these countries trying out the four-day work week I am sadly disappointed but not surprised that Canada and the USA will be the last countries to try it out and will probably be the last two countries to implement a four-day work week, if ever. I’m honestly not sure that I ever see it happening here in Canada and again, that makes me upset, but I’m not surprised about it. Canada pretends to be a very left-wing liberal country but when it comes down to policies like this, I don’t think that we will see a liveable minimum wage or a four-day work week for a very long time.
Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand was one of the leaders who decided to implement a four-day work week because of Covid, and I think that it was a great decision not just because of the Covid pandemic, but also to start a movement of several other countries also deciding to implement the four-day work week. I personally think Jacinda Ardern has led a great movement with this decision, and Canada’s leaders could definitely take some notes.
According to SHRM, the four-day work week would help keep employees mentally happy and loyal, improving productivity and saving companies training costs. It would also help address the gender gap by affording more flexibility to working mothers which would be a huge help. A four-day work week does more than just preserve workers’ mental health; it also ties into many of the issues surrounding work that we are dealing with right now. Including the shortage of workers around not just North America but the entire world due to low wages and terrible working conditions. Working less days of the week would be a help but it’s also not the answer to the institutionalized problems that we are currently facing with all types of work. Minimum wage workers on the front lines have dealt with so much the past almost 2 years due to the pandemic and I do think that minimum wage workers deserve far more than just a liveable wage and an extra day off. These frontline workers were treated so poorly and continue to be treated so poorly by people every day and it really saddens me to see and even experience that treatment at my own place of work.
With Canada’s election coming up we have an opportunity to vote for real change and I do hope that if you are of age to vote that you use that vote and use it wisely. Remember that voting day is September 20th and if you are a student going to be away from home, please look at mail in voting or the advanced polls offered from September 10th -13th. Happy voting!