Britain Is Facing Return of Three-Day Week

by Chris Sturr | January 25, 2009

Another from the Independent:

Britain is facing return of three-day week

Shorter hours would be preferable to mass unemployment, say government sources
By Jane Merrick, Brian Brady and Cole Moreton
Sunday, 25 January 2009

The prospect of the three-day week returned to haunt Britain yesterday as it emerged that ministers are considering paying firms to cut hours in order to survive the recession.

Tens of thousands of businesses are already planning to scale back working hours this year in an effort to stay afloat. But as the country comes to terms with the reality of a recession, it emerged that the Government is looking at compensating employees, through their firms–thereby drawing comparisons with the shutdowns of the 1970s.

While the move would safeguard jobs, it would mean that the financial crisis is on a much larger scale, further undermining confidence in the economy with the suggestion of Britain grinding to a halt.

Major firms such as JCB have already downed tools for one day a week and are considering moving to a three-day week, with state help, if the recession gets worse. The firm’s chief executive, Matthew Taylor, said that he is pressing Lord Mandelson, the Secretary of State for Business, to introduce compensation for workers if their hours are reduced. Some of the jobs earmarked for redundancy, he said, could be saved if the move is introduced by April.

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