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A four-day work week trial for Unilever employees will begin in Australia

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Over half of employees in the Australian offices of Unilever could move to a four-day work week without any reduction to their salary.
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Over half of employees in the Australian offices of Unilever could move to a four-day work week without any reduction to their salary, under a new trial being rolled out this month.

The trial will involve about 500 employees and run for 12 months.

This is separate from a worldwide trial currently underway, which has recorded largely positive results by employees and companies.

The context

Unilever is a multinational corporation that owns about 400 brands, including Ben & Jerry’s, Dove, and Rexona.

They commenced an 18-month four-day work week trial for its New Zealand employees in December 2020. Results from this trial showed improvements to personal wellbeing, absenteeism, and work/life conflict.

The Australian trial

Employees in Australia will be allowed to choose the day or set of hours they want to take off.

To ensure that work efficiency can be maintained during the trial, meetings will be less frequent but more efficient, fewer emails will be exchanged, and new technology will be adopted.

Results from the trial will be reviewed at the end of next year.

What’s the model?

Unilever will ask employees to maintain the same level of productivity they would otherwise have in a five-day work week, for the same pay, while only working 80% of the time.

This is the same model that’s been used in most four-day work week trials across the world, including a UK pilot involving 3,300 employees at over 70 companies.

So far, participating companies have reported almost no loss in productivity.

Unilever comments

Nicky Sparshott, the CEO of Unilever Australia & New Zealand, said she hoped the Australian trial would replicate the results in New Zealand.

“This is also about attracting and retaining the best talent possible, and the reality is, people are looking for more flexibility and purposefulness out of the work that they do each day.”

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