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Four-day workweek pilot project kicks off this year

Neelam Rahim |

3-minute read
14 January 2023 | 8:34 pm CAT

A pilot project to introduce a 4-day working week at companies in South Africa kicks off this year. It has already been introduced in several other countries. The model found less employee fatigue and higher revenue for companies.

To find out more if the initiative will work in South Africa considering the labour laws, Radio Islam International discusses with a director of a 4-day week South Africa NPC and Chairperson of the 4 Day Week SA Coalition, Karen Lowe.

According to Lowe, there are two core anchors in the initiative. The first is productivity following the questioning of whether productivity levels can be kept or improved in the regest work week. The second surrounds keeping employees happy, healthy and engaged.

The well-being of employees enables them to contribute at their best, benefitting the business overall.

Lowe said projects and research pilots conducted worldwide are showing positive results in all the health and well-being markets without any negative impact on personal productivity, while most are revenue positive.

South Africa faces load shedding, amongst many other challenges having a detrimental effect on productivity.

However, Lowe says, “there is room to challenge ourselves to work smarter and better, not necessarily harder, to the point of burnout.”

The pilot study results show that in the extra 20% of the work week, employees spent their time in leisure, housework, care work with the elderly, more present time with children, and personal maintenance, as per Lowe.

Meanwhile, employer gain may include staff turnover and a reduction in quiet quitting.

According to Lowe, the benefit for employers is a focus on productivity and what that means for the organisation.

She said a conscious awareness of how valuable their staff are to them enables them to rest without any guilt or anything attached to the gift of time they give to employees.

Still in the research process, Lowe advises that the Labour Law should not be tampered with, and the idea is for employers to experiment and find a model where reduced work time in hours works for the business.

Low says, “The experiment is for a fixed period, but most companies have gone through implementing the pilot programme and is a matter of the HR Department, the policies and procedures that are in place within the organisation being reworked and does not need to antagonise the legislative framework under which we operate,” she says.


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