Four-day trial suits workers

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by Greta Yeoman

Perpetual Guardian’s two Timaru staff members are enjoying a four-day working week.

The two Timaru staff members, client assistant Elyse Gamblin and client manager Martin Reynecke, decided to take up the six-week trial of the business’ new scheme to pay employees for five days of work but get them to only work four of those days.

Mrs Gamblin said she was enjoying taking part of the opt-in trial, which began on March 5.

“It has worked really well.”

She said as both she and Mr Reynecke have young children, it enabled them to have more time with their families.

Mr Reynecke had been able to attend a school fun day with his children, while Mrs Gamblin had been able to coach her twin boys in softball.

The trial had been offered to all of Perpetual Guardian’s staff around the country.

Perpetual Guardian’s founder, Andrew Barnes, insisted at the launch of the trial that it would not mean staff would have to work four 10-hour days, but could potentially make them more productive in the four days they worked.

Mr Barnes said increasing the productivity of staff had been one of the main reasons for shortening the working week by a day, along with enabling more flexibility in work schedules.

He believed the company could be the first in the country to take up the four-day week trial, which had been adopted by many businesses in other parts of the world.

Three organisations The Courierspoke to could not confirm if any other employers were running a similar scheme.

A spokeswoman for Aoraki Development said they were not aware of any other South Canterbury business offering staff the option of a four-day week, as did a union representative from tu.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) spokeswoman also told The Courier the ministry could not confirm if there were any other businesses running an arrangement such as that in New Zealand.

“It’s something that would be contained in the individual employment agreements between the employer and employees.”

Mrs Gamblin said while there had been challenges working shorter weeks in a small branch of two people, the pair had collaborated with the similar-sized Nelson office.

“[We] have a constant flow of peer review, assistance and support from colleagues in Nelson to help out.”

She had felt the benefits of the scheme extended to how someone would feel about their job and what they do daily.

“[It is] a really positive feeling.”