MP urges chancellor to consider ‘four-day week’ as part of Covid recovery
PUBLISHED: 17:16 07 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:16 07 July 2020
A Norwich MP has called on the government to look into the idea of a four-day working week to help the country recover from the coronavirus lockdown.
Clive Lewis, Norwich South MP, is supporting the campaign for fewer working hours, Demand Four Day Week, and quizzed the Treasury minister Kemi Badenoch on the issue in the House of Commons.
Speaking ahead of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s question session in Parliament today (Tuesday, July 7), Mr Lewis said: “My message to my own party and to the Tory party is to be bold. The public are in a place where they’re saying ‘we never saw this coming’.
“The pandemics aren’t going away, the crisis of poverty and mental health issues are still here.
“We need a transformational programme. People who work fewer hours are really much more productive and more energised.”
In the Commons, Mr Lewis asked Mr Sunak “what assessment he has made of the potential merits of including a four-day working week as part of the government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy”.
And the Labour MP added: “The chancellor would have received a letter signed by members across this House, including myself, asking for him to consider introducing a four-day working week as a way of helping the country recover and ensuring we create a better future post-Covid.
“Will the chancellor commit to the treasury exploring a four-day working week as part of it’s economic planning for recovery and would he also meet with me and other members to discuss how we can work together to make shorter working times a reality?”
But Kemi Badenoch, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: “The prime minister recently set out the first steps of the government’s strategy to rebuild and fuel the economic recovery in response to Covid-19.
“The government believes the best way to secure our recovery is to invest across the UK to level up whilst ensuring we create the conditions for private enterprise to flourish.”
And Ms Badenoch added: “The government believes the best way of dealing with these issues is for workers to look at existing options available for flexible working and discussing these directly with their employers rather than this government legislating for the entire UK workforce.”
She said she was “very happy to meet [Mr Lewis] and discuss this topic further if he would like”.
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