29 December 2022

The Carmichael Centre’s Mark Dean and Lance Worrall argue for a standard 4-day working week: “The truth about productivity is that regardless of slow growth (which is not the fault of labour), there has been positive productivity growth that has outstripped real wage movements. Workers have not received a proportionate share of the productivity gains they have made. Almost all of it has gone to boosting the GDP profit share. Sharing the benefits through a shorter working week means rebalancing between the incidence of overwork and unpaid labour, and underemployment and too few hours. It also means recognising the need to compensate Australia’s workforce for its past contributions to productivity growth. … This fact of sustained, nearly-full capture of past productivity gains as rents by the corporate sector provides a part of the justification for statutory shorter hours. Together with the more equitable distribution of labour to address the two poles of exploitation — overwork and unpaid labour alongside underemployment, too few hours and acute insecurity — the case for shorter hours contributes to the argument for a larger full employment objective and framework. The case is further made by the fact that additional to the benefits of shorter hours to individuals and the social fabric, a shorter working week is often associated with higher productivity… We conclude strongly that shorter standard work weeks, and a corresponding redistribution of working hours (including longer and more stable hours for people in underemployed and insecure work positions), will generate improved work-life balance, stronger social stability, and improved environmental performance — without undermining productivity and material incomes.”