Fuck Toil (aka The Shorter Working Week Thread)

Because life is short and work is an inconvenience.


Two years ago I made a flexible working request (as trumpeted by the employee handbook) and applied to go from 35 hours over five days to 32 hours over four days per week(with a pro rata reduction in wages). I asked my line manager and team colleagues in advance and they had no objections.

Management and HR refused the application, saying I was needed in work every day.

So I suggested that I could do 32 hours in three days and two half days (so I’d be in every day, but still able to do childcare for a full day, on aggregate, and pay for one less day of nursery per week in total).

They refused, saying I’d still be reducing my hours and therefore my availability to respond to emergencies or elected representatives. The exact phrase was “detrimental effect on the ability to meet client demand”.

Which is bullshit, cos there’s a specific emergency response team to deal with emergencies. And the response time to elected representatives is five working days.

They also claimed it’d be an increased workload on my colleagues.

Nah. I was only one of nearly 20 easily interchangeable employees. My unpaid three hour per week reduction would have represented less than 1% of the hours worked by that team. We’re forever being told about how we need to do change management stuff - that’s a one way thing, it seems.

But, undeterred, I suggested I condense my full 35 hours into three and two half days.

They knocked it back. Incredible, really, considering I’m already on flexi time hours between 8am and 6pm, mandatory core hours of 10am-noon and 2pm-4pm with lunch any time between noon and 2pm. All I was asking for was a relaxation of two of the mandatory core periods. Would still be doing all my hours. And would still be in every day.

They knocked that back. And the nine day fortnight suggestion. And the offer to just do something on a trial period.

And completely ignored the fact that I had, in fact, not worked a full five day week during the preceding three months.

So I asked about purchasing annual leave.

They got a bit grouchy. But I heavily hinted that I’d be looking into taking three months ma/paternity leave off if they refused that, too.

Funnily enough, they relented, and that was the ‘compromise’.

The official refusal letter was strewn with errors, but I didn’t take up the offer to challenge or appeal. I left the job to months later (albeit to stay working for the same employer, just in a better team).

One of the first things people say when I relay this story is “I bet they wouldn’t have been so resistant if you were a woman.” Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, as a man, it feels kinda weird to resort to playing that card. Hmmm.

Anyway. Pretty sure I’m gonna re-apply in a few days/weeks. And this time I’ll (hopefully) have union backing (I wasn’t a member last time).

Fuck toiling yourself into the ground.


Forked from:

I hope you get your reduction.

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Our work are against condensing hours (so still working 35, but over 4 days rather than 5). They’d probably be okay with going down to 4 days on fewer hours, that’s becoming more and more common, but is only really viable if you can absorb the 20% pay cut, which limits its availability.

Companies with Mon-Fri 9-5 hours should wake up to the potential savings of having people paid the same but only working 4 days 9-5. I think early studies on this are showing there’s no decrease in productivity, while there are obviously associated savings if you’re a big company and only 80% of your staff are in on a given day (I’d imagine the day off would rotate around the business or something like that, rather than the whole work closing on a Friday).


Get yourself back into the filth thread.

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The people I know in my last job who did three day weeks (mums, mostly) all pretty much still worked the same amount as the five dayers, they just ended up cramming work in or doing extra hours. So it’s no surprise that our HR allowed so many people to do it.


Very disappointed for/about this.


Glad I’m not your boss!


This is the point I made when I showed that I’d not worked a five day week recently, but the work was still getting done.

They said, “Ah, but annual leave is all ‘factored in’.”

My response was that much annual leave is taken in chunks. And if you’re off for a week or two, you’d likely do a handover. Or someone would at least cover to some extent, of required. But with my consecutive weeks of one and two days off, the was no cover or handover - I just arranged my workload accordingly and no-one was any the wiser that I wasn’t there for 20%+ of the time. So I was being less burdensome than the usual annual leave-taker.

They weren’t having it.

I suspect they were, when it boiled down to it, worried that, of they allowed it, loads of other people ask for it. Firstly they wouldn’t. Secondly, so what? I wasn’t going to be paid for tonne I wasn’t there. And if four or five people start doing one day a week less, just hire someone new to pick up the slack. And more employees working fewer hours is a more flexible workforce. What’s not to love from an employer perspective?


Completely take your point. I’m being obtuse for the sake of it here

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definitely this. the ‘core’ stuff that you have to do whether you do 2.5 days or 5 days stays the same (management/supervision/team meetings/admin/training etc), and so you have you scale your work and still account for that. it’s massively bullshit and unfair on part time staff. It’s also hard because they aren’t in every business day they miss out on those opportunities/projects that sometimes require someone who is going to be full time, or people consciously/subconsciously go to someone else.

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Tried this exact argument once in my past life as a local government drone, when I was trying to juggle running a lot of business for a small label as well - wasn’t trying to formally go down but kept putting in a/l requests and flexi days for Fridays. They eventually put a stop to it.

My partner has just switched to working slightly longer days and taking alternate Mondays off. They were very open to it. She seems happier so far.

My current employer is pretty good about this stuff. Dunno if I would want to do it, but then I’m a void of a human without dependents, hobbies or interests.

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Our work is 8 hours a day and unfortunately no WFH at all. Absolutely balls at points, would like to go 4 days a week

Exactly, like the people who finish at 3pm get scolded if they work till 3:30 to finish something but the same isn’t really applied to someone working till say 5:45.


The above (as some probably already know) is within a local government environment.

The basics are pretty decent (flexi, etc), but it feels like it’s, ultimately, a very rigid form of flexibility. The base level terms might not be there at a private employer, but there’s probably much more scope for tailoring your individual arrangements. I guess that’s the trade-off (heh) of being at a heavily unionised employer? Which is why I’m very pleased to see what McDonnell is touting today.

I’d bloody love to do a 4x10 work week


As far as I can tell my employer is pretty good on flexible working. We certainly have several part-timers, including one male colleague of mine who has uneven hours to accommodate his childcare needs.

If anything we have the opposite problem. This year they’ve introduced a leave-buying scheme, but I have absolutely no doubt this is payroll-trimming led rather than staff wellbeing led.