Pilot project seeks German employees to test out 4-day working week

DPA/The Local
DPA/The Local - [email protected]
Pilot project seeks German employees to test out 4-day working week
Are employees more productive during a four-day-week? Photo: Unsplash/LinkedIn Sales Solutions

Work shorter hours for the same pay - the concept of a four-day week is to be tested in a large-scale project in Germany. Interested companies can apply to participate starting Thursday, September 20th.


The project was initiated by the Berlin-based management consultancy Intraprenör, which wants to convince at least 50 companies to take part in the project, it said on Monday.

The participating companies are to try out the four-day week for at least six months - according to the model of 100 percent performance, at 80 percent of the time, with 100 percent pay. 

READ ALSO: Could Germany introduce a four-day working week for employees?

According to Intraprenör, the companies can draw on experts, learn new methods and engage in exchange with the other participating employers during the project period. 

The scientific evaluation of the six-month project - set to begin before the end of this year - will be carried out by the University of Münster. 

Intraprenör is working on the project with the NGO 4 Day Week Global, which has already taken the project in a similar form to various other countries. 

In the UK, many of the companies subsequently showed greater interest in introducing the four-day week. 

What exactly is a four-day week?

The pilot project explicitly relies on a four-day week, in which working hours are reduced but salary and targeted performance are to remain the same. Other models foresee, on the other hand, that with less working time comes less pay. 

In addition, some smaller companies are testing out a concept in which slightly more work is done on four days and then the extra hours of the previous days are compensated by time off on the fifth day.

However, the first variant, i.e. fewer working hours for the same pay, is the most widely discussed in Germany. The model is also what the German union IG Metall is currently demanding for the iron and steel industry. 

A member of the IG Metall union holds a sign that states "Steel is the future" at a demo in Lower Saxony for reduced working hours and better pay. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Friso Gentsch

Proponents argue that workers who only have to log four days a week are more concentrated and motivated in their work - and still successfully meet their targets even with less time.


Survey shows high approval for four-day week

A recent study by the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade unions, came to the conclusion that the four-day week is a popular idea among workers - at least in combination with equal pay for their reduced time. 

In the Foundation's survey, a full 73 percent said they would like a four-day week with correspondingly shorter working hours. 

About eight percent would also like this with less pay, while 17 percent completely rejected the four-day week. 

The rationale of "Because I want to have more time for myself" was mentioned most often (96.5 percent) as the reason why people wanted a shorter week. This was followed by "Because I want to have more time for my family" (89 percent).

READ ALSO: Myth-busting: Do Germans really have a perfect work-life balance?

Those respondents who rejected the four-day week said particularly often that they enjoyed their work (86 percent). 

An additional 82 percent were sceptical that a reduction in working hours would change anything in the way they work. About 77 percent assume that they would then no longer be able to do the work.


Great employer approval after project in the UK

After the four-day-week project in Great Britain, most of the participating companies drew a very positive conclusion. 

56 out of 61 employers said that they wanted to keep the four-day week. 

The number of sick days decreased by about two-thirds (65 percent) during the trial period, and the number of employees who left the company during this period fell by more than half (57 percent).

On average, the turnover of the participating companies increased by an average of 1.4 percent during the test period. 

The analysis was conducted by researchers from Boston and Cambridge. conducted in-depth interviews with participants.

However, the results are based on the evaluation of companies that had volunteered to participate. There was no there was no random selection. In the UK, companies from the financial, IT, construction, hospitality and healthcare sectors took part.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also