The Week - Junior

Should people spend less time at work?

Working fewer days and having a longer weekend is a popular idea.


In the 1930s it was thought that people living now might only be working 15 hours a week. Thanks to machines doing more of the work, it was believed that people would live better lives and have more time to enjoy leisure activities, while working less. Today, people work on average around 38 hours a week, and students in England, Wales and Scotland are required to spend 190 days (more than half the year) in school. There is a growing number of people, businesses and schools that think it is possible to do the same amount of work in four days instead of five. This would allow everyone to enjoy a longer weekend doing more of what they love. Others say it cannot be done and claim that a five-day working week is the only way. What do you think?

Yes – people should have more free time

If people went to school or work for only four days a week, they would have three days free to enjoy.

This would allow them to spend more time with friends and family, which can be difficult to arrange with only two free days a week. It would also give people more time to exercise, or take up hobbies such as learning an instrument or a language. Research from the Society for Personalit­y and Social Psychology has shown that valuing time more than money can improve happiness and wellbeing. This would allow students and businesses to work more effectivel­y. Some companies already have a four-day week and say their staff work better and faster because they are more relaxed, rested and happy.

No – five days is the right amount

Most schools and businesses run on a five-day week. Lessons and workloads are planned to fill that time. If five days’ work were squeezed into four days, people would almost certainly need to spend more time at school and work on those days. They’d also have to work harder to fit it all in. This could be stressful and make them tired. Besides, many workplaces – including hospitals, shops and restaurant­s – need staff working on all seven days. These organisati­ons would have to hire more staff to cover the rest of the week. That would be costly and complicate­d to schedule. Plus, workers might end up being paid less, so although they’d have more spare time, they’d have less money with which to enjoy it.

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