An ACT Parliamentary Committee has recommended a four-day work week trial for the public service sector.
The committee says the public sector is “well placed” to see how a four-day work week could succeed in Australia more broadly.
The ACT Government has said it will respond to the recommendation before the end of the year.
Four-day work week in Australia
A four-day work week means employees are still paid their full-time salary for only four days of work, but are expected to maintain the same level of productivity.
An ACT committee into the four-day week was established in 2021 after several businesses worldwide began trialling the shortened week.
As well as recommending a trial for the public sector, it made two other recommendations, including calls for a voluntary trial in the private sector.
Why the ACT public sector?
The Committee recommended a trial in the public service sector because it employs workers across a broad range of industries.
The ACT public sector includes anyone employed by the ACT Government, such as staff in government departments, public hospitals and public schools.
What happens now?
The Committee said a trial in the public service sector could begin immediately if the ACT Government approved it.
The ACT Government will respond to the Committee’s findings before the end of 2023.
However, new laws would need to be passed at a federal level for the entire ACT workforce to transition to a four-day work week.
Opposition to the four-day work week
Committee Chair Leanne Castley didn’t support a four-day workweek trial, citing comments from ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr who said the shorter working week wasn’t a priority, and that it would be complicated to execute.
These concerns were not shared by the rest of the committee.
Four-day work week studies
Global studies do not show a negative impact on productivity. Non-profit 4 Day Week Global reported 63% of businesses found it easier to attract and retain workers with a four-day week, and 78% of employees reported they were happier and less stressed.
These findings were echoed at 10 Australian businesses, according to a report from Swinburne University released in June.