Business HR Under The Spotlight – Your 3 Minute June Roundup

“Welcome to Spotlight HR’s monthly ‘bite-size’ look at the latest HR news and important

legal changes affecting small to medium-sized businesses across the UK today.”

June 2022. By Kimberly Bradshaw (CEO, Spotlight HR.)

Would a four-day week work for your business?

A nationwide experiment began in June, looking at how a four-day working week would impact businesses.  The initial indications give an idea of the pros and cons, and the results so far are really surprising! But first off, here is a summary of what the four-day week trial is:

  • It’s a six-month trial run by Autonomy think tank & Oxbridge researchers, where employees get 100% of their wages whilst reducing their working week to 80%.
  • Running in the UK from the beginning of June, it’s the world’s biggest experiment of its kind.
  • 3,300 workers from 70 businesses are taking part across the UK.
  • Importantly, workers are expected to deliver the same level of productivity in fewer hours.
  • It also seeks to uncover the positive wellness impact this extra day off has on wellness and quality of life/work.

Through the HR lens – How might the four-day week impact small businesses like mine?

On the face of it, it seems counterintuitive to employ staff to work on the same salary but work fewer hours, so what is the rationale, and how could this work in real life?

This trial is being keenly observed by employers not just in this country but all over the world – with similar pilots being run in Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – with the various participating think tanks sharing data. Post-pandemic, we are working in a new world, where flexi and hybrid working schemes are not the exceptions but the norm – so how does this one fit in?

As with all groundbreaking trials, this one has its supporters and doubters. Those in favour are interested to see the positive impact this could have on gender equality, stress reduction and wellbeing – with the extra day off adding work-life balance – with productivity unaffected or even improved as a result. Interestingly, Microsoft Japan trialled a four-day week in 2018 and saw a 40% increase in productivity. The sceptics cite how previous schemes have not fared well, mentioning that specific sectors such as IT, HR and accounts will struggle.

One interesting point to consider from our article last month, ‘Why we are all struggling to employ people at the moment’ – discussing how offering greater job flexibility can help attract talent in a competitive employment market. It could be that schemes such as a four-day week could suit smaller companies better – because they are more dynamic and able to adapt – which could see SMEs attracting the talent that may previously have gone to the bigger players. We will have to wait and see the results when the trial finishes at the end of 2022 – and we will report back.

A reminder of the Spotlight HR Top Tips to hire in 2022:

  • Prioritize flexibility: Offer remote and hybrid working models to attract new talent.
  • Wellbeing: Encourage workplace health and emotional wellness to make your business a motivational and encouraging place to be employed.
  • Talent recruitment: To attract the best talent in 2022, you need to be competitive. Getting expert HR advice will save you time and money – get in touch for FREE advice.

Employment Tribunal in focus – An employee with ‘long COVID’ is classed as disabled

A Scottish employment tribunal, found an employee suffering from long COVID to be ‘disabled’ within the purposes of the Equality Act last month.

His ongoing ailments and how they impacted his daily life (his ability to cook, iron and shop) overshadowed an Occupational Health report which said he was unlikely to be disabled. In his circumstances, the tribunal concluded that he had enough significant physical difficulties from long COVID to be classed ‘disabled’.

Although each case would be assessed on its own merits, this case flags that employers need to consider that employees with long COVID might be regarded as having a disability. And with an estimated 1.4 million people in the UK reporting long COVID symptoms that impact their ability to carry out daily activities, we recommend that you have up-to-date HR procedures in place to reflect this. Please drop us a line to discuss this further.


If you’re affected by any of these issues, please get in touch for dependable HR advice that you can trust. We are here to help.