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Should every weekend be a long weekend?

Posted: 18 Apr 2017

Should every weekend be a long weekend?

We don't need to tell you – waking up for work after a long weekend is tantamount to torture. You're not alone if at some point on your commute you found yourself wondering: why can't we have a long weekend every week?

This is not an uncommon question, but it does have political backing. The Green Party has long championed the rebalancing of wealth and work hours to improve mental health. Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, one of the party's co-leaders, Caroline Lucas, outlined the argument for its implementation.

According to the party, both employers and employees would benefit from shorter weeks. Lucas stressed that the UK's work-life balance is inequitable due to the increasingly long hours we work, which in turn has a negative impact on individuals' overall physical and mental wellbeing and on a society as a whole.

Lucas commented: "There's lots of evidence that suggests that when people are exhausted their productivity goes down. People are working ever more hours, getting ever more stressed, getting ever more ill health, mental health problems as well.

She went on to explain that longer weekends would spell good news for employers, who would see their sickness and absentee rates fall while productivity increased. This is a viewpoint supported by research compiled by the TUC, which found that while the UK workforce is among the most overworked in Europe, it is also one of the least productive.

The study uncovered a 15% increase in the number of people working more than 48 hours per week since 2010. Many of those surveyed also stated that they regularly skip lunch or stay on late at work. However, does this extra time manifest in extra work? Unfortunately not. Germany for instance had a productivity rate 36% higher than the UK's despite having the shortest working week in the EU, indicating that what the UK can produce in five days, Germany produces in four.

Lucas concluded by asking: "What we want to do is take a step back and think, 'What is the purpose of the economy? What kind of country do we want to be? And do we really want a future where all of us are just trying to work even harder?'"

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