‘Ambitious’ call for Aussies to work just four days

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Australians could soon be paid their full-time wage to work just four days a week should sweeping proposals from a senate inquiry be adopted.

The landmark report by the select committee on work and care backed a raft of changes, including a year of paid parental leave and the right to disconnect from work outside of hours.

Greens senator Barbara Pocock, who chaired the inquiry, called on the government to seriously consider the “ambitious” reforms to boost the quality of life.

“In our history, Australia led the world in reductions in the working week in the 1850s. We’re at the other end of the spectrum with too many Australians working very long hours,” she told ABC News Breakfast.

The report has recommended a trial of the four-day work week.The report has recommended a trial of the four-day work week.

“We need to think more seriously about how we deal with a changed workforce.”

The report recommended the Albanese government trial the 100:80:100 model. Workers would continue to be paid a full-time wage and maintain productivity despite working 80 per cent of the week.

“We heard a lot of evidence … of people who are already working a four-day week in workplaces that are trialling a reduction in working hours and getting very positive results,” Senator Pocock said.

“We’re seeing in the evidence improvements in productivity, a lot greater work and family balance, and really good outcomes in the workplace and at home in terms of relationships and putting your life and your job together.”

The pilot would be spread across the workforce and conducted in partnership with an Australian university.

A review into the idea of the 38-hour work week and whether stronger penalties were required for employers who made staff work long hours should be considered by the Fair Work Commission, the inquiry said.

Senator Barbara Pocock said the pilot programs already in action were showing positive results. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin OllmanSenator Barbara Pocock said the pilot programs already in action were showing positive results. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Another key recommendation from the report was restricting employers from contacting employees outside of work hours unless it’s an emergency.

“What people are saying is, can we work our working hours and once we’re beyond those, unless it’s absolutely urgent, we should be able to turn the phone off and not be at its beck and call,” Senator Pocock added.

While the report had the broad support of Labor and Coalition senators, additional comments provided by government members noted the reforms might not be possible in the current economic environment.

“This fiscal reality necessarily imposes constraints on social policy,” Labor senators Deborah O‘Neill, Jana Stewart and Linda White said.

“It is now the role of government to consider the report and its recommendations within the context of broader budgetary and legislative constraints.”

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