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University of Regina professor weighs in on 4-day work week

University of Regina economic's professor Jason Childs weighs in on the discussion of how a four-day work week could impact Saskatchewan. File / Global News

There has been a lot of talk about moving to a four-day workweek in Canada, after New Zealand’s prime minister suggested the idea in May.

This would mean condensing the traditional five-day, eight-hour work week into a four-day, 10-hour work week.

But University of Regina economic’s professor, Jason Childs, said this idea wouldn’t necessarily work in Saskatchewan.

READ MORE: New Zealand mulls 4-day workweek post-coronavirus. Could that work in Canada?

With the Saskatchewan economy relying heavily on blue-collar type work such as mining, trade and agriculture, Childs said implementing 10-hour work days can sometimes cause further problems in terms of fatigue.

“If you’re on any type of job where fatigue is an issue, and have fatigued workers with higher health risks, they’re more likely to make mistakes or injure themselves or others,” Childs said.

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“We do see (that) thing in farming. We see injuries increase during harvest and seeding when people are going as hard as they can,” Childs said.

READ MORE: ‘Nothing is off the table’: B.C. premier on a 4-day workweek following coronavirus pandemic

However, Childs said there have been studies done in white-collar settings where a four-day work week has shown increased levels of productivity.

Still, he added a four-day work week can create staffing challenges.

“If you are expected to be open five, six, seven days a week, then you are compressing everybody’s hours into these four-day blocks,” Childs said.

During a Facebook Live in May, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern floated the idea of shifting to a four-day workweek saying it “certainly would help tourism all around the country.”

READ MORE: A 4-day workweek boosted productivity by 40% at Microsoft Japan. Would it work in Canada?

“I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day workweek,” she said. “Ultimately that really sits between employers and employees, but as I’ve said, there’s just so much we’ve learned about COVID-19 and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that.”

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While this idea has been thrown around in Canada for some time, Childs said there isn’t any legislation preventing Saskatchewan from making the jump.

“We see very few employers opting for the four-day week opposed to the five-day, eight-hour work week,” Childs said.

“It would suggest to me that there isn’t a lot of gain here in terms of productivity for the employer.”

Click to play video: 'It can happen suddenly – a workplace accident. Every year in Canada, nearly 1,000 workers die as a result of their jobs' It can happen suddenly – a workplace accident. Every year in Canada, nearly 1,000 workers die as a result of their jobs
It can happen suddenly – a workplace accident. Every year in Canada, nearly 1,000 workers die as a result of their jobs – May 4, 2019

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