Leader of the Reason Party and Member for Northern Metropolitan, Fiona Patten, has called on the Victorian Government to commence a trial of a four-day work week and other flexible work programs.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that Victorians are adaptable,” Ms Patten said.
“Many employees and employers alike are finding that allowing for flexible working arrangements can benefit both the worker and the organisation. The Government has indicated they want to keep the positives we have discovered during these trying times, and flexible work arrangements is certainly one of them.
“Research shows that a four day work week makes people happier and more productive, plus it saves HR money with less people taking stress and sick leave.”
Ms Patten requested a costing from the Victorian Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) for a trial of a four-day workweek at the Department of Treasury and Finance. It found that even a very small limited trial in just one department would conservatively save the state’s budget nearly $4 million in just twelve months.
“If the trial is favourable, the State Government could roll it out right across the public sector – which accounts for around 11% of the Victorian workforce. The implementation across the public sector would generate a flow on effect to the private sector. It would be a boon for workers, as companies strive to compete to make themselves attractive to workers, you can’t put a price on time with your kids.”
In March 2018, New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian held a six-week trial of a four-day workweek. Under the trial, staff continued to receive their full pay while undertaking the same work but were able to nominate one-day a week as a rest day. The company has now made the trial permanent given its success, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has recently suggested widening the program across her country.
“With no loss of productivity and the advantages of improved employee satisfaction, less time lost to sick leave and better work life balance, this can be a real win-win,” said Ms Patten.
“It will mean less cars on the road and extra seats on the train. We have seen the reduction of traffic on our roads during lock-down measures, imagine if we could make some of that permanent. We could stop building freeways and get to our destinations quicker,” said Ms Patten.
Ms Patten has requested a meeting with Victoria State Treasurer Tim Pallas to seek his support in moving the idea forward.
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