Jamaica | Feb 23, 2023

A ‘compressed work week’ could lead to four days of work under applied flexi-time

Candice Stewart

Candice Stewart / Our Today

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Results of the world’s largest four-day working-week trial (to date) were released on Tuesday (February 21). The participating 61 companies and around 2,900 workers in the United Kingdom (UK) took part in the six-month-long trial from June to December 2022. It revealed that 56 of the participating companies are continuing the four-day work week arrangements. 

It begs the question, is Jamaica ready for a four-day work week? We may not truly know the answer to that just yet. However, there may be hope through an applied compressed work week under the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangement) Miscellaneous Provisions Act which came into effect on November 25, 2014.

Technically, a four-day work week might be possible. As explained by a ‘Flexible Work Arrangement Frequently Asked Questions’, booklet produced by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in 2015, the ‘Compressed Work Week’ type of flexi-work arrangement could see employees working for four days as opposed to the traditional five days. This form of flexi-work states that an employee may negotiate with their employer to complete the traditional forty hour work week over a shorter span of days. It is called the 4/10 schedule. The employee would work for 10 hours for four days. According to the booklet, an employee could even complete their work over 3 ½ days.

However, flexible work arrangements are not mandatory by law and companies are not obligated to offer such a benefit. Those that offer some form of flexible work arrangements may choose not to allow that specific schedule. 

“The employer will have to determine the type of flexi-work which best suits their organisation having regard to factors such as the nature of the company,” the booklet says. 


The other types of flexi-work arrangements are: 

  • ‘Part-time work with benefits’ which allows employees the flexibility of working for part-time hours while still being able to access benefits such as group life insurance, pro-rated vacation leave, and sick leave.
  • ‘Telecommuting’ which allows the employee the opportunity to work from a site other than the central work site. For example, they could work from home.
  • ‘Flexi-time’ which states that the employer and employee could negotiate the time for commencement and end of work. However, there is normally a ‘core time’ when all workers should be at work. This ‘core-time’ coincides with the time when the workplace does the most business and is usually around 10:00 a.m.


The benefits of a four-day work week and flexible work arrangements are not as dissimilar as you may think. 

The Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC), in the February 2021 publication of its bi-annual newsletter ‘The Productivity Pulse’ shared a few benefits of flexitime. Some of which are:

  • Improved morale and job satisfaction 
  • Reduced stress and fatigue 
  • Greater staff retention and easier recruiting of capable employees 

Interestingly, some of the key findings from the four-day work week trial revealed that “some of the most extensive benefits of shorter working hours were found in employees’ well-being.” The results show that 39 per cent of employees were less stressed, and 71 per cent had reduced levels of burnout at the end of the trial. Levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep issues also decreased, while mental and physical health improved.

Another key finding highlighted that staff turnover for the companies in the trial decreased significantly, dropping by 57 per cent over the period. 

The trial also spoke to improvement in work-life balance. “Employees also found it easier to balance their work with both family and social commitments. For 54 per cent, it was easier to balance work with household jobs. Employees were also more satisfied with their household finances, relationships and how their time was being managed. Sixty per cent of employees found an increased ability to combine paid work with care responsibilities, and 62 per cent reported it easier to combine work with social life,” the report said.


The JPC also listed ‘productivity gains’ as a flexible work arrangement benefit. But, how exactly does a flexi work arrangement impact productivity? 

In 2021, the JPC piloted an alternative work arrangement perception study which, in part, investigated the perception of individuals and organisations on the impact that alternative work arrangements had on their productivity levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the preliminary observations included:

For individuals:

  • 39 per cent of respondents reported that flexible work arrangements improved their ability to balance work and personal responsibilities and 39 per cent thought it did not affect this balance
  • 45 per cent of respondents reported that it improved their ability to be productive, while 42 per cent thought it did not impact their productivity
  • 42 per cent or respondents thought that the level of frustrations or number of distractions increased due to the flexible work arrangements, while 35 per cent thought it lowered the frustrations or distractions.

For individuals, the most commonly reported flexible work arrangements were staggered shifts, flexi-time and reduced hours in office. The compressed work week was the least used by respondents.

For organisations:

  • The most reported flexible work arrangement that was implemented prior to the onset of the pandemic were staggered shifts, flextime. Compressed work weeks were the least commonly used work arrangement. 
  • For those organisations reporting flexible work arrangements prior to the pandemic, 60 per cent thought that these arrangements improved productivity.
  • After the onset of the pandemic, the most common flexible work arrangements being used were reduced hours, work from home, flextime, and flexible worksites. Of the organisations implementing flexible work arrangements after the pandemic started, 47 per cent thought the arrangements improved productivity. 

It is important to note that the sample size was not revealed.  


Here are just a few thoughts that every-day working-class Jamaicans have on the matter of a four-day work week:

“I have been advocating for a four-day work week for years, even with our flexible work policy. People should be able to operate under a compressed work week. Really and truly, I think that this whole system of ‘oh, it has to be eight hours a day’ is kind of archaic. I think if people worked according to objectives or work plans, if you can get your work plan for a week done within a space of three to four days, why not? Seriously, why not?”

Human Resources professional with 7 years of experience across public and private sector

“The 40-hour work week is from a time before the major advancements in technology and innovation that we’ve had globally. The 40-hour work week is not a mountain. It can be moved. It may be scary and the way forward may not be clear but that usually is how change is. As it’s implemented (which I doubt, look how we handled COVID), we would find ways to make it better.”

– Jean-Pierre Kavanaugh – Communication Specialist

“To be honest, I would go for it just because it’s a shorter work week and it means that I have a longer weekend. It would not affect my work productivity as I enjoy what I do. I would adjust to the requirements to such an arrangement. Some people would make the sacrifice to move from an eight hour to a 10 hour work day. I think it will improve the productivity for people who care about their job. Those who don’t care about their job would probably waste time. I say yes to four days of work.”

Marketing executive with five years in the private sector

What are your thoughts on a possible four-day work week in Jamaica?

See more: Four-day week liked by UK employers in world’s largest trial

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