THIS week, the Trade Union Congress is holding its annual conference in Manchester.

The most radical and, I believe, the most important announcement to come out of the conference is the proposal for a four-day working week.

There is no catch. The proposal is to effectively reduce the hours people work every week without any reduction in pay or substitution for longer shifts over a four day period.

Automation is now something that we all, governments, workers and companies included, need to get our heads around.

Society is on a course to reaching a situation where many people will no longer be required to carry out their jobs. This will cover many sectors – not just manufacturing.

Lots of jobs including administration, customer and legal services will see automation, making a lot of roles redundant.

That does not mean that the people performing the roles are redundant. On the contrary, we should benefit from advancements in technologies and a stronger sense of workers' rights that our forebearers did.

The idea of a two-day weekend only came to be during the first half of the last century.

This was due the growth in wages to actually spend in leisure time, hard work from trade unions and advancements in technology meaning companies were more easily persuaded to give their workers the Saturday off. 

Many workers including myself do shifts, four on, four off, or three 12-hour shifts.

Now, along with automation, lots of us work from home and within much more flexible hours so we can balance all of the commitments in our lives that do not merely

stop at 9am and restart at 5pm in the weekday.

The four-day working week is an interesting idea if it is flexible. Many companies are trialling it and they have noted that staff are happier, less stressed and actually

more productive than during a five-day week.

Of course, there are caveats and exceptions. MPs will still be on call seven days a week and some essential jobs do not allow for this kind of working, at least at the moment. 

Times are changing.

What do you think? Email