A Future Fit for Wales: a shorter working week for all

14 February 2022

At a glance:

Wales is beset with a number of economic and social problems pertaining to health, income, the social security system and the labour market. This report explores how a reduced working week could impact and improve working life in Wales.


A four-day week in the Welsh public sector would:


  • Create 37,859 jobs in Wales (26,951 full-time and 10,908 part time positions).
  • Cost around £1 billion.
  • Amount to 10.5% of the public sector salary bill – or 6.7% if it was only rolled out to full-time workers.
  • Amount to 2.5% of Wales’ current public sector spending.
  • Be roughly 0.1% of the UK’s annual public spending budget.
  • Be particularly impactful in Wales. Among Welsh NHS staff, sick absences are particularly high amongst UK nations.


Investment in a public-sector trial is recommended.


  • Public sector procurement strategies should also be used – in line with the Fair Work Commission and the Well-being of Future Generations Act – to encourage working time reduction with private sector partners.


A Working Time Committee should be set up in order to bring trade unions, politicians and businesses together to work towards the goal of shorter working weeks.


  • Worker voice in the workplace should be strengthened to allow for more effective collective bargaining on the issue of working time. Trade unions have historically led the charge for working time reduction and they need to be central to the conversation in Wales.


The majority of medium- and large-sized Welsh firms can afford to move to shorter working hours in the long term.


  • Using an initial ‘stress test’ simulation, with conservative assumptions, we conclude that working time reduction is a feasible goal for most of the private sector in Wales.


Polling shows large appetite for working time reduction in Wales:


  • 76% of the Welsh public would support the sharing out of work so that everyone can have good work-life balance.
  • 57% of the Welsh public would support the Welsh Government piloting a scheme to move towards a four-day working week.
  • 62% of the Welsh public would ideally choose to work a four day working week or less.


Rob Calvert Jump
David Frayne
Phil Jones
Jack Kellam
Ishan Khurana
Lukas Kikuchi
Kyle Lewis
Will Stronge



David Frayne and Will Stronge

This report was commissioned by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.