Navigating the 4-Day Work Week: Challenges and Opportunities in Manufacturing

By Made In Group
schedule12th Mar 24

The prospect of implementing a 4-day work week in the manufacturing sector has sparked discussions among members, as highlighted in a recent Made in Group meetup. This article explores the key points raised during the meetup, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities associated with transitioning to a shorter work week in manufacturing.

The discussion group followed a best practice talk by Nigel Rivers, Managing Director or Pentangle Engineering where he had successfully transitioned to a four day week and shared his feedback with members who attended the session.

Reducing hours or adopting a 4-day work week involves multiple working patterns and necessitates careful consideration. Nigel, highlighted the importance of employee adoption and support in the process.

Employee Perspectives and Work-Life Balance

The meetup delved into individual perspectives on a 4-day work week. Examples were shared, such as Paul Stockhill's approach of balloting everyone and considering objections. The benefits of an extra day off, especially for those with childcare responsibilities, were highlighted. The discussion touched upon the impact on mental well-being, employee satisfaction, and the potential for increased staff retention.

Meeting the New Minimum Wage Challenge

Whilst some members considered the 4 day week as compressed hours and improved flexibility, others discussed the impact of the new minimum wage, which is adding a substantial sum to overheads. To mitigate this, some companies are contemplating reducing working hours, potentially leading to a 4-day work week. The challenge lies in striking a balance between maintaining competitiveness and meeting the financial needs of the workforce.

Navigating Legal and Contractual Frameworks

Whilst the approach to a 4 day week was largely positive there are legal and contractual considerations and a four day week may not work for all companies, there was also caution urged with a focus on mitigating increased labour rates. Consultations with employee representatives and exercising clauses like SOSR (some other substantial reasons) to change contracts were explored. The importance of maintaining open communication and avoiding legal challenges, such as tribunal cases, was emphasised.

Industry-Specific Considerations

Different manufacturing companies presented their unique approaches to a 4-day work week. Examples included staggered work hours, compressed workweeks with ten-hour shifts, and flexible arrangements to accommodate childcare needs. Some participants highlighted the challenge of customer reliance on a traditional 5-day work week, while others showcased successful transitions with positive impacts on energy efficiency and fuel savings.

Results and Benefits

Several participants shared positive outcomes from adopting a 4-day work week. Nigel reported a 95% workforce approval, reduced energy consumption, and increased holiday entitlement. The approach was seen as an alternative to pay rises, offering employees additional time off as a valuable benefit. The article emphasises the importance of data-driven decision-making and the need for a gradual transition.


In conclusion, the challenges and opportunities of implementing a 4-day work week in the manufacturing sector are complex but navigable. As highlighted by the Made in Group meetup, careful consideration of legal frameworks, employee perspectives, and industry-specific requirements is essential. The article encourages manufacturing companies to assess the benefits of reduced working hours, keeping a data-driven approach and fostering a smooth transition to meet the evolving needs of the workforce.


Chat with us!

Live Chat

Welcome to our microsite, please tell us your name, company and email to chat with a member of the team.