VICTORIA, B.C. – The B.C. Green Caucus is calling on the BC NDP to pilot a four-day workweek across the province.
“It's time British Columbians had a better work-life balance,” said Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley. “People are exhausted from trying to keep up with rising costs of living, inadequate healthcare, and working through a pandemic. Business owners and managers are facing a significant labour shortage and are struggling to keep employees.
“We should be rethinking what it means to work. A four-day workweek - without cuts to pay or working longer hours - is exactly the kind of innovative, people-first approach that can spark renewal in our workplaces.
“Results from pilots and trials in B.C., across Canada, and around the world prove that a four-day week is good for businesses and good for people. The evidence is clear, workers want a shortened week, and businesses face better outcomes for it. We are calling for this government to build on the successes of the many pilots from around the world and take the next step of incentivizing a four-day work week with a tax break.
“B.C. businesses are facing rising costs - inflation, paid sick days, EHT, rising federal taxes - and many are struggling to hire and retain skilled workers. A tax break would help them in a time where every penny counts, and a four-day week without a reduction in salary would help attract talented employees.
“This business-friendly approach allows flexibility for employers to figure out what works for their specific case, whether they’re shift workers, small businesses, or working in an office. We want to show that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and allow businesses to adapt in ways that work for them.”
The B.C. Green Caucus is calling for:
- A 3-year pilot of a shortened work week incentivized by a tax break for businesses - similar to a proposed bill in the state of Maryland.
- As part of the pilot, businesses would be required to report data to the province to better determine how to balance reduced work hours and maintain the same rate of pay with benchmarks like productivity, employee wellbeing, and employer satisfaction.
- Government to publish interim reports of the data and findings of the pilot every year, with a final report to be made at the conclusion of the pilot.
- See attached backgrounder for more information.
“When we first proposed a four-day workweek in 2020, those with no imagination said it could never work, but what we've seen is more and more jurisdictions adopting the idea and starting pilots,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.
“It’s time for this government to get on board and recognize that this is where the economy is going. The BC NDP need to stop dragging their feet like they did on renewable energy, labour rights for gig workers, and other economic fronts. This is something we can get in front of. British Columbia lost the opportunity to be a global leader but still has the opportunity to be the first province in Canada to implement a provincial pilot program.”
Shorter workweeks reduce stress and illness and maintain or even boost productivity. People can have more flexibility in where they live, and balance long commutes into the office. Evidence is pouring in from around the world on the success of businesses implementing four-day weeks. The tides are turning in the business community in Canada, with many businesses saying the four-day workweek is inevitable.
“Here at home, there are many organizations operating within a shortened week, like the City of Merritt, the David Suzuki Foundation, multiple small businesses, and my legislative, constituency, and party staff,” said Furstenau.
Furstenau called for a four-day workweek as part of her leadership campaign in 2020. In the three years following, numerous global pilot projects have shown a tidal wave of change towards a four-day work week.
“Working more hours does not mean working better. The time has come to test a new way of working that fits in the world we want to shape. This pilot would be the start of renewing our economy towards better working conditions, wellbeing, and a healthier life.”
Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Global Program Director, 4 Day Week Global
“Science fiction writer (and Vancouver resident) William Gibson famously said that the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. The 4-day week— in which organizations reduce working hours without cutting salaries or output— is one of those practices that feels futuristic but is already here. In the last few years, the 4-day week has gone from an outlandish concept to a reality practiced by businesses around the world. British Columbia companies— including law firms, drug companies, start-ups, and foundations— have been at the forefront of the movement and turned the region into one of its epicenters. They’ve demonstrated that it benefits workers and their families, organizations, and even benefits clients and stakeholders. Most importantly, they’ve shown that we don’t have to wait for the future. We can create it now.”
Rory McGuire, Chief Creative Officer, Blackbird Interactive
“The four-day work week simply made more sense for Blackbird Interactive than the standard, five-day, 40-hour schedule. It was an idea with a high level of employee support, and we saw the advantages very quickly during our initial pilot program, including better focus during work hours, higher morale, and increased efficiency. We have since made the transition to the shorter work week permanent with no intention of going back. We believe it’s a better way of doing business, for all levels of the company.”