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This, Plus a 4-Day Week at Full Pay

Unilever to provide New Zealand employees with more free time
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2020 2:17 PM CST

(Newser) – It's not easy to spot positive effects on jobs caused by the pandemic, but here's one. Partly to improve the mental and physical well-being of its workers in New Zealand, Unilever is shortening their workweek to four regular days. They'll work 20% less but keep full pay, Business Insider reports. The movement to a four-day week, the company's New Zealand managing director says, is "validation of the catalytic role COVID-19 has played in shaking up standard working practices." Unilever will reassess after a one-year trial and says it will provide the results to other companies interested in similar changes. Nick Bangs says the experiment's results among the New Zealand staff of 81 will inform whether the practice is extended to more of the consumer goods company's 150,000 employees around the world.

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"Our goal is to measure performance on output, not time," Bangs said, adding that the company expects an increase in productivity. "We believe the old ways of working are outdated and no longer fit for purpose." Another New Zealand company reported higher productivity after making the switch in 2018. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had suggested employers consider shorter weeks during the pandemic, per Reuters. Tourism could benefit, as well, she said, speeding the nation's economic recovery, though the government has not made the change for its employees. "When the prime minister talked about it in the context of what the future of work would look like, that was encouragement for us,” Bangs said. (Read more New Zealand stories.)

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