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Matthew Taylor CBE, sets out three-day week proposal to North East businesses

Matthew Taylor CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and Chair of the Review of Modern Employment, has told North East businesses he would advise the government to introduce a three-day working week, during an online video podcast with Jean-Pierre van Zyl, head of employment at Square One Law.

Mr Taylor produced ‘Good Work: the Taylor review of modern working practices’ for the government in 2017. Its aim was to consider how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models. In the interview he spoke about a new report that has been published by the RSA, which calls for two three-day rolling shift patterns across a six-day working week to help manage the return to work after the COVID-19 lockdown.

The report also calls for a stable 12-month transition period to enable businesses to better plan and invest in new ways of working.

Based partly on policies from South Korea where the impact of the virus has been controlled, it would also ease the pressure on roads, and public transport.

Matthew Taylor CBE said: “We have to think about transition. We know at the ground level and from economic theory that uncertainty inhibits innovation and creativity.

“We think the government should say, unless the virus is actually eradicated on one hand, or the R number moves above one, on the other, this is how things are going to be for 12 months and to maintain social distancing, it should put in place a set of measures and one of those would be the potential of moving to a six-day week, comprising of two, three-day shifts.

“Saturday is a working day for many businesses and for schools and other businesses that wouldn’t normally open on a Saturday, people then work either Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

“That enables you to do a deep clean between shifts and it helps to track and trace illness.

“It will also help safeguard jobs because what I am hearing from business leaders is, on average, most businesses think they will lose about 20 percent of their staff when things come back.

“But if you are employing people for three days rather than five days you’ll hold on to those people. It’s much better, in my view, that we accept tightening of our belts, and the government can support people who lose a bit of income as well.”

Jean-Pierre van Zyl, Head of Employment at Square One Law, said: “Certainty would be of great assistance to businesses and the RSA’s proposals offer an interesting solution which will allow business leaders the opportunity to plan and manage their return to work for the coming months. Until businesses have a road map, planning is difficult. If a business does not know what it’s doing, because it is waiting for guidance, it’s really difficult to communicate those messages to staff at a time when people want clarity.

“At Square One Law we have embarked on this process already ourselves and are helping clients, essentially wargaming what the commercial landscape looks like as well as looking at various models for the next three, six and nine months to try understand what needs to be put in place to help them plan, so their business can pivot to any new opportunity and be adaptable to the changing environment.”

Watch Matthew in conversation with Jean-Pierre below or visit our COVID-19 employment hub for more information and resources.

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