The working week in the UK could be slashed to 4 days under a radical plan by Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party

British Labour MP John McDonnell is seen in the conference centre of the Labour party annual conference in Brighton, Britain September 23, 2019.British Labour MP John McDonnell is seen in the conference centre of the Labour party annual conference in Brighton, Britain September 23, 2019.Reuters / Peter Nicholls

  • Britain's Labour party has pledged to introduce a four-day working week if it is elected.
  • The radical plan was described in a Labour-commissioned study two weeks ago as not "realistic or even desirable."
  • Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: "I've always believed we should work to live, not live to work."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - British people could see their working week reduced to a maximum of four days under a radical plan by the opposition Labour party.

Speaking in Brighton at the party's annual conference, Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the plan reflected his belief that "we should work to live, not live to work."

"People in our country work some of the longest hours in Europe," McDonnell said.

"The next Labour government will reduce the average full time working week to 32 hours within a decade."

"A shorter working week with no loss of pay," he said.

McDonnell said Labour would introduce a 32-hour working with no loss of pay within a decade if Labour was elected to government, to be achieved by opting back into the European Working Time Directive, which caps the number of hours people can work in an average week.

He also promised to roll out collective bargaining to trade unions to negotiate the target with employers.

Laura Parker, national coordinator of the Corbyn-supporting Labour group Momentum, said: "We are delighted that a shorter working week, a policy Momentum campaigned hard for, has been adopted by John McDonnell and is now Labour policy."

However, the announcement came just two weeks after a report commissioned by the party described the plan as not "realistic or even desirable."

The report, by cross-bench peer Robert Skidelsky, said people should work fewer hours for a living but said imposing a four-day working week would not be effective.

The UK now works longer hours than and other European country apart from Greece, with the average employee spending 42.5 hours a week compared to the EU average of 41.2 hours.

The report said: "Even though some people are compelled to work shorter hours than they want to, most people are compelled to work longer hours than they want to."

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