Branch Secretary :

Housing association cuts hours with no loss of pay

Welcome contrast



A London housing association is to cut working hours with no loss of pay, bucking the trend in social housing.



Unrealistic workloads and mounting stress levels are regularly reported in the sector, both in surveys and anecdotally.



“We want to accommodate 21st century workers with 21st century lives”



Despite the financial health of the sector, many employers have sought to increase workloads and attack benefits such as flexible working and annual leave. In a welcome contrast however, one housing association has decided to experiment with reduced working hours with no loss of pay.



Causeway Irish Housing, a small London based association, will introduce a 32-hour week over four days for a trial period.  If the results are positive with no detriment to the service, the new working pattern will become permanent.



Benefits for residents



The office will remain open five days a week, with benefits said to be seen for residents as they will be able to meet staff and visit the office outside the normal 9am – 5pm arrangement.



Director Joanne Murray is quoted as saying, “We want to accommodate 21st century workers with 21st century lives”.



Time for leisure



“Our working culture and conditions were designed over 100 years ago for people who usually had someone else taking care of their domestic responsibilities.


“We want all our staff to have enough time for leisure during their leisure time. We would expect the lost hours to be those currently unproductive ones being spent physically present but mentally elsewhere, or being stressed and off sick”.



New ACAS report



This enlightened move stands in stark contrast to initiatives from some in the sector to reduce annual leave or withdraw flexitime arrangements.  The conciliation service ACAS produced a new report last week showing that two thirds of workers in the UK have felt stressed or anxious about work over the last year.



The ACAS advice on mental health in the workplace can be found here.  Also see our recent report for mental health awareness week.



Need for shorter working week



Unite campaigns for a shorter working week as a response to technological advance and supports the Labour Party initiative to set up an inquirey into a shorter working week. 



As HR magazine and The Guardian have reported there is mounting evidence that staff want a reduced working week as part of the response to climate change, a four-day week can contribute to reduced emissions.  There is also a growing consensus that reduced working hours can contribute to productivity.






Unite reps will want to publicise these issues and consult members on the need for reduced hours. We will certainly resist backward looking employers that seek to extend hours or reduce flexibility.



Further information is available on the website of the 4 day week campaign here.




Paul Kershaw, Chair Unite housing workers LE1111



26 May 2019


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