Zemorda Khelifi, a member of green party Europe Ecologie les Verts (Europe Ecology The Greens), is vice-president of the Lyon metropolitan authority. From September, more than half of the city’s 9,600 local civil servants will be able to adopt the four-day week, if they wish.
Why has the Lyon metropolitan authority decided to carry out this pilot scheme?
This trial fits in with the way ecologists see society, where quality of life, health and the environment are paramount. Ideally, we would like to reduce working time to a 32-hour week [instead of 36], but that’s out of our control. On the other hand, we hope to make our jobs more attractive at a time when we are finding it hard to recruit.
What benefits do you hope to gain from a four-day week?
Trials carried out abroad, notably in the UK, Portugal and Iceland, have shown an improvement in the physical and mental health of workers, leading to a reduction in sick leave for employees. This should also have an impact on gender equality in the workplace. 80% of our part-time staff are women. By switching to a four-day week, they will be able to go back to full-time work if they so wish and receive full pay, while retaining a day off.
Doesn’t the inevitable lengthening of the working day run the risk of undermining its intended effect?
That’s obviously a risk. But it will also make it possible to reduce commuting times, which have risen sharply in recent years. According to a survey we carried out in 2021, 50% of our employees have to travel more than thirty minutes between home and work, and 10% have to travel for longer than an hour. Having an extra day without work should also, at the very least, make up for this. It’s also important to remember that this is a voluntary experiment, and we’ll be assessing its effects and staff satisfaction after six months.