Could a four-day working week work? 每週四天工作日,可行嗎?

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儘管英國人每週工作的時間很長,但他們的工作效率卻低於許多其它歐洲國家。有一種方法或許可以解決這個問題 —— 那就是縮短工作時間。一週工作四天意味著大家可以有額外的一個休息日,但仍拿五天的工資。目前,英國已經有公司開始實行一週四天工作日的制度。不過,對於這個制度是否可行,人們意見不一。你認為 「每週四天工作日」 的制度可行嗎?本集 「隨身英語」 討論縮短工作周的利弊。

Vocabulary: work 詞彙: 工作

People in the UK work longer hours than anyone else in the European Union but are far from the most productive. According to the Trades Union Congress, a UK body that brings together 49 member unions to improve their working conditions, employees in Denmark are 24% more productive per hour but work four hours fewer per week. ‘Britain’s long-hours culture… is robbing workers of a decent home life and time with their loved ones. Overwork, stress and exhaustion have become the new normal,’ says TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady. They want businesses to cut the standard working week from five days to four. But would a four-day week work?

It does for Rich Leigh, founder of a Gloucester-based PR business. Staff there work Monday to Thursday, 9am – 5:30pm, but still get paid the same as before. In an interview with the BBC, Leigh claims it makes the staff happier, which leads to better, more productive work. After a year, earnings and profits are up and sick days have halved.

The 4 Day Week Campaign also believes a shorter week would benefit everyone. They claim that it would, among other things, more evenly distribute work between the overworked and the underemployed. They estimate that around 30 UK businesses operate a ‘four day, same pay’ system.

However, not everyone is convinced. One of the UK’s leading charities, the Wellcome Trust, conducted an organisation-wide consultation into whether a four-day week would fit. They decided against it. ‘Many employees worried about their five-day workloads being compressed into just four days and some raised concerns that the time and energy used to implement a four-day week would distract the charity from its core work,’ says Ed Whiting, director of policy at the Trust.

So does a four-day working week work or not? Clearly it suits some… but not everyone. “We’ve got a lot to do before it can work for different sectors,” says Emelia Quist from the Federation of Small Businesses in a BBC interview. ‘Social care needs people present 24/7. How can we ensure those industries can work a four-day week?’ she adds. Until we can answer questions like these, there’s clearly more work to be done.

詞彙表

productive 高效的
trade union 工會
working conditions 工作環境,勞動條件
long-hours culture 加班文化,超時工作環境
overwork 工作過度,勞累過度
standard working week 標準工作周
founder 創始人
staff 員工,全體僱員
earnings 工資,薪水
profit 利潤
sick days 帶薪病假
underemployed 只有部分時間被僱用工作的人
operate 實行
organisation 企業
workload 工作量
core work 核心工作
sector 行業,領域
24/7 每時每刻地,一直不休息地
industry 行業,產業

測驗與練習

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. True or False? British workers are the most productive in Europe.

2. What cost is working long hours taking on UK workers?

3. How has a four-day week benefitted Rich Leigh?

4. Why did the Wellcome Trust not move to a four-day week?

5. What issue does Emelia Quist have with a four-day week?

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處。

1. I’m afraid I won’t have time to play this weekend. I’ve got a really heavy _______ and I may have to work Saturday and Sunday.

working conditions            sector                        overwork                 workload

2. I always join the organisation’s _______. That way if I feel I’m being treated unfairly, I can ask for help.

trade union                       organisation               industry                   sector

3. I’m definitely an early-bird. I’m much more _______ in the mornings than in the afternoons.

underemployed                productive                  overworked            operational

4. The first thing I noticed about Japan was that the convenience stores were open _______! They never closed!

sporadically                     from dusk till dawn      24/7                       once in a blue moon

5. I may have been the _______ of this company, but you, my son, will make it a huge success in the future.

trade union                      organisation                 sector                    founder

答案

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. True or False? British workers are the most productive in Europe.
False. Employees in Denmark are 24% more productive than UK workers.

2. What cost is working long hours taking on UK workers?
According to the TUC, ‘Britain’s long-hours culture… is robbing workers of a decent home life and time with their loved ones.’

3. How has a four-day week benefitted Rich Leigh?
After a year, earnings and profits are up and sick days have halved.

4. Why did the Wellcome Trust not move to a four-day week?
Many employees worried about their five-day workloads being compressed into just four days. They also wondered if it would distract from their core work.

5. What issue does Emelia Quist have with a four-day week?
She says that there is a lot to do before it will work for different sectors, for example – social care, which requires people present 24/7.

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處。

1. I’m afraid I won’t have time to play this weekend. I’ve got a really heavy workload and I may have to work Saturday and Sunday.

2. I always join the organisation’s trade union. That way if I feel I’m being treated unfairly, I can ask for help.

3. I’m definitely an early-bird. I’m much more productive in the mornings than in the afternoons.

4. The first thing I noticed about Japan was that the convenience stores were open 24/7. They never closed!

5. I may have been the founder of this company, but you, my son, will make it a huge success in the future.