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Britain could move to a four-day week if policymakers make “the right decisions” over new technology, according to a new report.
The report by the Social Market Foundation says Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, including “the internet of things” which connects household appliances, driverless cars, big data, robotics and artificial intelligence,could transform Britain’s workplaces, with employees getting more leisure time, more fulfilling work and a safer workplace and employers seeing their organisations become more productive and profitable. Smaller employers in particular will need to embrace technology more fully.
It would require, however, policymakers to deliver new workplace rights, better infrastructure, improved training opportunities and updated competition policies, says the report.
Its recommendations include several that address the dangers of 4IR leading to greater job insecurity and fewer rights, such as the setting-up of a cross-government 4IR working group to develop a clear action plan for driving forward the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the UK, a broad 4IR infrastructure strategy that takes account of all relevant aspects of infrastructure, employer consultation with employees on the use of new forms of workplace surveillance and monitoring and a requirement for employers to report on the extent to which profit and productivity gains are translating into higher employee wages.
Other recommendations focus on the need for a National Retraining Scheme, tax relief on self-funding work-related training and collaboration between town planners and local government on co-working spaces, particularly for SMEs so they have access to new technologies.