Four countries where the four-day work week is partially in effect

Although no country has yet officially introduced the 4-day workweek, its effects are being tested in several places. Here are four countries where the 4-day workweek has already been widely used or is currently being tested:

South Africa

More than 500 employees from 28 companies are taking part in the 4-day workweek trial in South Africa, which began in March and will run through September. The second trial is scheduled to begin in June. The experience is based on the 100-80-100 model, i.e. employees receive 100% of their previous salary if they worked 80% of their previous hours, but still performed 100% of their usual work.


In early 2022, the Belgian government announced a package of reforms that will allow workers to work four days instead of five without losing their wages. The law officially came into effect in November 2022. According to the system, employees are still required to work the same number of hours, but for 4 days longer instead of 5. However, the employer may refuse an employee’s request for a shorter work week if the refusal statement is submitted in writing and it is The decision is fully justified.


Between 2015 and 2019, Iceland launched one of the largest 4-day workweek testing programs in which nearly 2,500 people participated. The experiment was considered a great success, with employees reporting improved well-being, work-life balance, and increased productivity. From 2022, workers represented by Icelandic trade unions – which make up nearly 90 percent of the workforce there – have been given the opportunity to request a shorter work week. However, the introduction of the 4-day workweek is still very slow in Iceland, because instead of a general introduction, employers only negotiate the matter based on individual requests.

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In 2021, the Japanese government issued guidelines for companies to allow employees to work four days a week, which aims to improve work-life balance for employees. Many companies have taken advantage of this opportunity, for example Microsoft and Panasonic have also tried it. In the island nation, the proportion of companies offering a 4-day work week as a benefit was 10 percent last year.

Cover image source: Getty Images

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