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New Zealand Prime Minister Suggests Four-Day Workweek to Boost Tourism

by Eben Diskin May 20, 2020

New Zealand has earned praise for its swift handling of the coronavirus, effectively eliminating the virus domestically. In addition to a shift toward working from home as a consequence of the health crisis, New Zealand workers might also be able to look forward to a four-day workweek. Jacinda Ardern, the country’s prime minister, floated the four-day workweek idea as a way to stimulate domestic tourism while borders remain closed to foreigners.

In a Facebook video, Ardern said, “I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day workweek. Ultimately, that really sits between employers and employees. But, as I’ve said, there’s just so much we’ve learnt about COVID and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that. I’d really encourage people to think about that if you’re an employer and in a position to do so — to think about if that’s something that would work for your workplace because it certainly would help tourism all around the country.”

The suggestion assumes that if given an extra day off, New Zealanders would be encouraged to use their long weekends to travel domestically. This would hopefully offset the loss of revenue resulting from border closures.

And the idea isn’t falling on deaf ears. Andrew Barnes, the founder of New Zealand company Perpetual Guardian, which employs over 200 people, is ahead of the curve. His company transitioned to a four-day workweek in 2018.

“New Zealand could definitely go to a four-day week in the aftermath of Covid,” he told The Guardian, “and in fact it would be a strategy to rebuild the economy and particularly the hard-hit tourism market as it pivots to a domestic focus.”

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