CANBERRA, March 15 (Xinhua) -- A four-day work week could relieve stress and make workers happier, an Australian senator has proposed, claiming the government should engage in debate about how to raise worker morale while also boosting the economy.
In a speech to be delivered to the National Press Club later on Wednesday, Greens leader and senator Richard Di Natale said that a four-day work week, or six-hour working days, would not only do wonders for workers' work/life balance, but would also help the economy cope with the ongoing automation of many jobs.
"A four-day work week, or a six-hour day might actually make us happier and create more opportunities for others, not to mention reducing the costs of full-time child care," Di Natale will say.
Overnight, prefacing his Press Club speech, the Greens leader told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that the government should engage in debate about whether changes to the "traditional" work week could benefit the economy and worker health as well.
"It's time we recognized there are big questions we're not asking ourselves. What sort of society do we want to be?" Di Natale told Lateline overnight.
"What does the future of work in this country look like? How do we deal with the fact that wages have remained stagnant, but productivity has gone through the roof?
"There are a whole range of models of how this could be brought forward. We're not suggesting any specific model.
"We know in Sweden, for example, a six-hour work day was implemented in the aged-care sector to increase productivity, because people who are happier and healthier at work are more productive."
Di Natale said while his proposal is open for debate, something needs to be done to cut back the stress of the long Australian work week.
"We've got in Australia people here doing more hours than any other developed nation on earth, an average of 44 hours a week," he said.
While many working Australians might be in favor of a shorter working week, economist Saul Eslake told the ABC that simply copying an existing model from overseas was not the answer.