Non-working Friday: A new trend that is taking the world by storm. Is something like this feasible in Serbia?
Europe and the world
In many European countries, the idea of a non-working Friday, i.e. a working week with only four working days, appeared as a response to the general crisis. Although this way of distributing working hours was hinted at six years ago, there were no interested parties in its implementation at that time. Major global changes in the labor market have changed the perception of working time by both employees and employers. This resulted in the introduction of non-working Friday across Europe and the world. This kind of model was first started in Germany and the very goal was a response to the crisis and a way to reduce the need to fire quality personnel who are difficult to replace later.
Today, a number of European countries apply this type of work system, and it has proven to be extremely effective for most of them. In some countries, there are even state subsidies in order to maintain this system.
According to the global campaign “4 Day Week Global”, this distribution of the working week can simply come to life, especially in sectors where it is not necessary to produce 5 days in a row. The highest efficiency was shown in the sectors based on the provision of intellectual services.
What is a non-working Friday?
The idea of non-working Friday is simple – employees would work four working days a week while they would be paid the same and enjoy the same rights as before, but with the same work load. This is why this concept is sometimes referred to as the “100-80-100” model. The employee will continue to be paid 100 per cent wages in return for working 80 per cent of the hours but maintaining 100 per cent workload.
It is also the first potential solution with which a trial period of 4 weeks can be started to see if the system can even come to life in practice.
What scared employers and employees was how to suddenly switch to a new work system, but several solutions were found for that as well.
The variations of this working time schedule model are numerous, and we come across another model called “sliding day”, which is based on the fact that one group of employees does not work on Fridays, while the other group does not work on Mondays, and then they can be rotated so that each has a certain number non-working days, i.e. Friday and Monday.
The third model, which is also the least popular, is a decentralized model in which working hours are shortened so that workers actually get a day off when the total number of working hours per week is added up.
Although at first glance it seems that the employees benefit the most because they work less for the same salary, the employer actually benefits the most from this system, because his costs are reduced due to the reduction in the number of working hours and there is no need to fire quality personnel.
And what is the point of it all? The goal of such a “shortened” working week is to create a society of rested people but also productive ones, while on the other hand the employer still profits and even saves on costs.
And what do the experts say?
The conclusion reached by numerous researches that were carried out after the introduction of non-working Friday is that in 4 working days every job that previously required 5 working days, during which people procrastinated their work, slowed down the pace and the productivity itself.
What mainly motivates employees is that they have more time for themselves and their families, and this leads to them coming to work more satisfied and ready to perform their tasks more promptly, without increased pressure, stress and a hectic pace (so-called Work- Life Balance).
Employees are happy and therefore treat other colleagues and their clients better, because according to the respondents, “it is better to spend less time at work, but focused, than to spend more time, but slacking off”.
What do employees and employers say?
According to the Forsa survey, which was carried out in Germany, the pioneer country of the idea of a non-working Friday, 71 percent of people who work in Germany would like to be able to work only four days a week. Just over three-quarters of those surveyed said they supported the government investigating the potential introduction of a four-day week. Among the employers, the majority supported this idea. A significant majority of respondents (75%) believe that a four-day week would be desirable for employees, while the majority (59%) believe that it should be achievable for employers as well.
Almost half of employers (46%) said they felt it was “feasible” to try a four-day week in their workplace.
Employees reported less stress, burnout, fatigue and work-family conflict during four-day work week trials.
However, whether such a measure will be implemented or discussed remains to be seen. So far, mostly smaller startups were experimenting with a shorter work week.
Potential problems in practice
Practice has shown several controversial things that should be paid attention to when implementing a non-working Friday. Namely, in some cases there was a lot of pressure on employees on Thursdays to complete their work duties. This problem can potentially be solved by good management with high attention to the scheduling and organization of work tasks. Also, this change does not fit all employees, so it is best for the employer to come up with the ideal model for a specific business in agreement with the employees.
Is this feasible in Serbia?
The Serbian Labor Law (“Official Gazette of RS”, no. 24/2005, 61/2005, 54/2009, 32/2013, 75/2014, 13/2017 – US decision, 113/2017 and 95/2018 – authentic interpretation, “Law“), regulates working time as the time that the employee is obliged to spend at work during a certain period of time. The basic form of working time is “full time”, which is 40 hours a week. However, the Law allows the employer to establish a full-time working time of less than 40 hours per week, but not less than 36 hours per week. Both working hours are full-time and the employee has all the rights related to full-time work.
The law does not provide more details about working hours shorter than 40 to 36 hours a week, but it can be said that the goal of this regulation is to enable employees to work shorter hours and have more rest, while exercising the same rights (salary, rest and other rights from the employment relationship) as if they work 40 hours a week, because in both cases it is a full-time job. It means that with the introduction of this type of work, the employer expects the employees to achieve the same work in shorter working hours as before, to maintain or increase productivity, and that the overall effects of work remain at the level of 40-hour working hours. So the goals are the same as for non-working Friday. It is obvious that the introduction of shorter working hours than full time should mean keeping the same volume of production or business, or increasing it, which is why employees need to work more intensively and productively, for which they will receive the same or higher wages than before, with shorter work and longer rest between two working days. Based on the foreseen possibility of introducing shorter working hours by a general act, the decision on this should be made by the competent body of the employer – the board of directors, the supervisory board or the director where these collective bodies do not exist.
On the other hand, to talk about non-working Friday in its full scope, we enter the domain of part-time work. Namely, in that case the working hours would be 32 hours a week, which is less than the prescribed full time. Our Law regulates working hours shorter than full-time as part-time and foresees proportionally fewer rights of the employee compared to full-time employees. Therefore, a part-time employee in principle has the same rights from the employment relationship as a full-time employee, but as a part-time employee works less, he also realizes a smaller scope of rights from the employment relationship due to this smaller volume of work. However, the employer can establish greater rights and more favorable working conditions than the rights and conditions established by the Law, as well as other rights that are not established by the Law, by means of a general act or employment contract. Therefore, it is not prohibited for the employer to arrange part-time working hours for its employees with the full scope of rights through its general act, if this would not lead to discrimination, more precisely if it would apply to all employees of the employer.
Instead of a conclusion
All in all, it seems that the concept of a non-working Friday is slowly but surely becoming more prevalent around the world, but whether governments and other countries will definitely adopt the idea remains to be seen.
Finally, we will quote an employer from New Zealand, who introduced a non-working Friday in his company: “Our goal is to measure performance on output, not time. We believe the old ways of working are outdated and no longer fit for purpose.”