Saturday, August 2, 2008

Is A Four-Day Work Week Anti-Feminist?

Beginning Monday, Tennessee will become another four-day work week state. Unlike other states, such as Utah, where the four-day week is mandatory, Tennessee at least gave its employees the option to sign up for a 37.5 hour week in four days.

I ran across an article here discussing the pros to switching to a four-day work week. I can see validity in the points made in this article. Here are a few of the sixteen reasons cited:
Reason #1; the impact a 4 day work week could have on crude oil imports.
Reason #6 The 4 Day Work Week would result in a reduction in personal expenses.
Reason #11 The 4 Day Work Week would give us more time for family
I also ran across an interesting blog piece here about the four-day week and if it would indeed mean an easier time for families. The crux of the matter seems to be,
On one hand it sounds like a dream … three-day weekends sound so enticing. But while flex scheduling often includes this kind of arrangement, making it mandatory can also cause daycare nightmares for working parents.
I will tell you that I elected not to do the four-day week for three main reasons. (1) Agincourt and I love our 4:30pm beer dates. (2) By the time 3:00pm rolls I can't fathom another three hours. (3) I already work a full schedule and then bring work home. Even with longer days, I would still have work to bring home.

What I did find when talking to coworkers is that the women are unable to make a four-day work week work not because they don't want to, but because they cannot make it work with the fact that they tend to all the daycare shuttling.

So, what do you all think? Does a four-day week work for you?


Bonnie said...

Okay, I guess the obvious question is (and forgive me if I'm being obtuse): Why can't their husbands/significant others take over all--or most of--the daycare shuttling?

frau sally benz said...

This is really interesting! I'm pretty sure I would stick with five days a week for the reasons you mention.

If I was a mother, I'm not really sure how I'd work it out if I switched to a 4-day work week. In Utah, have day care providers changed their format/policies to accommodate? I would think that if it was now mandatory (or at least an official option) throughout a state, the state would work with day care providers to come up with some creative solutions.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't have any kids, so scheduling isn't really an issue for me. However, I actually would prefer a 6-day workweek, with fewer hours a day spread out over more days. Being in the building from 8-5 is draining; I'd love to be able to go in an hour later, and just not feel like my entire day was getting eaten up in the office.

Flex time is definitely a feminist issue, though. I wish that flextime was mandatory, but implementation methods (mandatory 4-day workweek) were not. So you could choose between the standard week, the 4-day week, the 6-day week, or do the standard week, but from 9-6 or 10-7.

Mächtige Maus said...

Ah yes. Bonnie, I had the exact same question in my head when I realized that my female coworkers couldn't take advantage of the four-day week. In fact, out of about thirty coworkers, only one male turned down the option because he needed to be available for transportation needs.

I'm having a hard time tracking down whether or not states are putting any energy into creative daycare solutions to help with the extended work day. One would certainly hope that a mandatory schedule such as this would not be put into place without any thought about the needs of the employees, but I have been amazed before at how employers can be oblivious.

Oh, and I *love* the idea of a six-day work week with shorter hours. It is basically what I end up doing anyway.

Agincourt said...

Well, as Maus' significant other, I DO take care of most of the during the day. You know, frisbee throwing, poop scooping. But. I also have the (mostly) luxury of working a 5 or 6 day week, from home. The flexibility is wonderful.

Like Bonnie, one of my first questions was why can't s/o pick up kid slack? I also quickly confirmed to Maus that I thought she would end spending her day "off" working anyway, not to mention the loss our occasional 4:30 beer appointments.

Habladora said...

What an incredible example of how two people with identical goals (in this case, helping working mothers) and writing for the same site can come to opposite conclusions - I wrote here about how the 4-day week might help working women a couple of weeks ago.

I do see though that the switch might initially prove tricky for parents as day cares figure out how to accommodate new schedules. It is good that Tennessee is letting people choose.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could work just 4 days. That would be awesome. Unfortunately 80 divided by 4 = 20 hrs per day.

Tracey said...

It seems that daycares would have to become more flexible in response to more and more people entering a 4-day schedule.

I don't have kids, and a 4-day week sounds fantastic to me. I often work 12-hour shifts anyway, racking up overtime, so working longer in order to score more days off sounds like a perfect arrangement. I would even be willing to pile all of the hours into 3 days if it meant I could have longer weekends. Heh.

Toronto life insurance broker said...

My personal opinion about 4 day working week is very positive. I introduced it in my Life Insurance Canada company and the employees are satisfied. BUT of course it's fully optional! Everybody has different biological rhythm, somebody has no problem to work 10-12 hours, but somebody doesn't feel comfortable working more than 8 hours and is even willing to have only 2 days of weekend. I respect that.