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Nine-day fortnight proves more popular than four-day week

More employers have implemented, or are considering implementing, a nine-day fortnight (28%), compared to a four-day week (22%), according to two new studies from recruitment company Hays.

A nine-day fortnight is a compressed work pattern where each employee has one day off every two weeks, typically every other Friday.

Hays’  survey of 3,483 UK employers found 68% of professionals would be tempted to move to a different organisation if it was offering a nine-day fortnight. 

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This figure increases to 72% for professionals aged between 20 and 29. 

Uptake of the nine-day fortnight is highest across micro-organisations (up to 10 employees) as 37% have implemented or are considering the working pattern, compared to almost a third (32%) of organisations with over 1,000 employees. 

Gaelle Blake, head of permanent appointments at recruitment agency Hays UK and Ireland, said the nine-day fortnight could be a less radical alternative to the four-day week. 

She said: “Whilst many employers still offer hybrid working post-pandemic, a reduction in the number of working days per month is an even bigger consideration for organisations.  

“However, what’s clear is that flexibility is highly valued by workers, and the nine-day fortnight could be a good middle ground for employers who are reluctant to implement a four-day week, as it means one day off every other week rather than every week.  

“A nine-day fortnight is slightly less of a change for employers and professionals to adapt to and plan for, reducing concerns about the impact of this working pattern.” 

Blake added that flexible working can be implemented in multiple ways. 

She said: “There are multiple ways for employers to offer their staff flexibility, and these will vary depending on different roles, sectors and circumstances.

"For instance, some professionals are able to pick what time they start and finish work, so long as they work certain core hours, known as flexitime.” 

The news comes as the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill is due to reach its third reading in the House of Lords this week (14 July).  

Under the new plans, employees will be able to request changes to their working hours, times, or location from day one of employment.   

Half (49%) of UK workers would consider asking for flexible working on day one of a new job, according to research from flexible working social enterprise, Timewise. 

Emma Stewart, co-founder of Timewise, said employers need to be proactive in preparing for the influx of requests.  

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “We know a wave of requests are coming when this legislation goes through, and HR needs to think carefully about their response and decide their policies now.  

“Otherwise, the unintended consequence is that staff who are more informed and know about the bill will end up with different options available to those who aren’t, which could lead to tension and inequality down the line.”  

The survey was conducted between 13th April and 9th May 2023 and received 8,853 responses. 3,483 responses were from employers and 5,370 responses were from professionals.