Employers and the government should consider a split three-day week as part of a 12-month strategy for Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19, the RSA urges.
Under the proposals, outlined by RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor, workers would be split into ‘A teams’ and ‘B teams’, typically working Mon-Weds or Thurs-Sat. Based on best practice from South Korea, this would help enable social distancing at work and would also ease congestion on the roads, cycling infrastructure and public transport.
This would give employees greater choice to combine paid work with caring, learning, or volunterring, the RSA says, and bridge to a future of more flexible work for both employers and employees.
It also suggests a negative income tax or 'initial' basic income, funded by turning the personal allowance into a direct cash payment for workers, while employers could also benefit from the National Insurance temporarily turning into a positive payment to protect jobs as furloughing is eased.
Other ideas outlined in the essay include:
- Re-opening restaurants and pubs with pre-booking a necessity, and social distancing officers employed to ensure safety as part of a huge effort to upskill the UK’s private security base
- Mass digital learning to help employees reskill during their ‘rest’ days in the three-day weeks
- An ‘assets for all’ strategy giving low-cost loans and grants to low-income families to avoid problem debt
- Turning vacant libraries and other public spaces into learning zones for pupils whose home learning environment is unsuitable
- Greater use of deliberative democracy – such as citizens’ juries and panels – to bring scientific and other experts together with the public.
The RSA unites people and ideas to resolve the challenges of our time. During the Covid-19 crisis, it is exploring innovation in the areas of society that must thrive so citizens can live well. Specifically – work, community, a new economy, care and learning – so we can build a bridge to a better future.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, said:
"The crisis can be an opportunity for positive change.
“We need to get back to work, but there is no going back to normal, even if we wanted to. We are calling for a 12 month ‘back to work’ strategy to help businesses plan, must contain the seeds of a better future – which creates a better future of work, builds our green infrastructure, and brings citizens and experts closer.
“Over time, the ‘team a’ and ‘team b’ working could develop into a more permanent three day week, while the negative income tax could become a basic income floor for citizens.
“These ideas and others will clearly be subject to debate, but it’s vital we have new thinking to ‘build back better’ and address the challenges we face, from the climate emergency to mass economic insecurity."
Ash Singleton, Head of Media and Communications, RSA: firstname.lastname@example.org, 07799 737 970.
The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is an independent charity which believes in a world where everyone is able to participate in creating a better future.
Through our ideas, research and a 30,000 strong Fellowship, we are a global community of proactive problem solvers, sharing powerful ideas, carrying out cutting-edge research and building networks. We create opportunities for people to collaborate, influence, and demonstrate practical solutions to realise change.
Our work covers a number of areas including the rise of the 'gig economy', robotics & automation; education & creative learning; and reforming public services to put communities in control.