The New Brunswick Union wants its members to be able to choose to work four days a week and work the same number of hours a week. The majority of union members are employees of the provincial government.
“It is a resolution that received the support of our members at the last meeting of the New Brunswick Union (SNB), in October 2020,” said the organization’s president, Susie Proulx-Daigle.
She indicates that for the time being it is only a wish that is expressed via a press release.
“It would depend on the workplace and our collective agreements, but I believe they all allow the four-day work week, estimates Ms Proulx-Daigle. We could find a solution if the government was open.”
She states that her members are feeling tired due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Giving them an extra day of rest each week would reduce their absenteeism and increase their productivity, while improving their mental health, his union said. And this, even if the number of working hours remains the same.
These 7,900 public sector employees hold positions in provincial ministries, the school system, hospitals and community colleges.
“By testing this program, the province wants to [donnerait] people more time to spend their money in their communities, which should increase tax revenues,” the SNB also suggests.
He also argues that the four-day work week would give the government an advantage in recruiting its staff.
The other organization that represents many civil servants, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), has no official ruling on the four-day week.
“If improving schedule flexibility in certain positions can help recruit and retain employees, I don’t see the harm,” said his union communications adviser Simon Ouellette.
Personally, however, he would like a reduced work week, but paid as a normal week, not simply compressed into 4 days.
Several companies and municipalities are already introducing working weeks in New Brunswick.
The cities of Quispamsis and Sackville will carry out pilot projects on this topic next fall. The Moncton and Saint-Jean administrations are thinking of imitating them.
The four-day week can yield positive results.
Merritt Press in Grand Falls made this choice at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Rebecca Ellis says her decision has improved the mood, mental health and motivation of her employees.
“They can do the same amount of work in four days,” she said. I think I have a loyal group of employees because they can’t get that anywhere else.”
In Nova Scotia, the Guysborough Municipality has made a four-day-a-week pilot project permanent. She has seen positive results on the performance and well-being of her officials.
Other examples abroad show the potential benefits of the four-day work week.
Researchers have concluded that the transition from working 40 hours a week in five days to 35 hours in four days has made it possible to maintain or improve the productivity of Icelandic companies, while contributing to the well-being of their employees.
In Japan, the Microsoft company noted a 40% increase in the performance of its employees, an improvement in the quality of their work and a 92% satisfaction rate thanks to the 4-day workweek.
“Not to mention that the four-day week also has environmental benefits, leading to a 20% reduction in the number of trips between the worker’s home and work,” adds Gestion magazine de HEC Montréal to.
The professor of human resources management at the Université de Moncton, Arnaud Scaillerez, notes that it is the employers who set up a four-day work week by rethinking the work of their employees, who get good results.