#BuildBackBetter: Reclaim work life balance and push for a 4-day workweek


If there is one thing all workers have in common, it is the frenzied nature of our working lives and the need for better work life balance.

The four-day workweek has been gaining traction during the pandemic as governments begin to think about how to distribute work more fairly and improve workers’ lives.

Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand recently suggested employers should move to a four-day workweek to enhance leisure time and give the battered tourism industry a boost.

In Unifor’s #BuildBackBetter road map, the union encourages governments to make this a reality for workers in a way that alleviates stress and ensures income protection. The road map shows, it’s important to be clear about what kind of four-day workweek we’re pushing for, and what kind of changes will lead to better work life balance.

We must reduce hours overall, not simply compress the same number of hours into a more stressful workday. And this must be done while ensuring that workers do not face a pay cut.

Shinade Allder, President of Local 6005, pushed for this change in Unifor’s #BuildBackBetter media conference, saying, “The harsh reality is that many workers in Canada are working as many hours as they can, simply to keep afloat.”

Canada’s workers need more paid vacation time and sick leave, fair scheduling and higher hourly pay.

“This crisis has thrown workers’ personal priorities into view, and while it has added stress and financial challenges, it has meant that many workers have spent more time with direct family, and in their homes,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Working families need government and employers to setup structures that support full lives, by rebalancing pay scales, and exploring a 4-day workweek.”

Unifor has seven recommendations to improve the income security system. 

They include: 

  • a minimum wage of at least $15 and tied to 60% of the median hourly wage for full-time workers;
  • stronger employment standards and labour legislation to provide stability for workers to ensure everyone is covered;
  • permanent changes to the EI program to expand eligibility, access and benefits;
  • facilitating more leisure time and work life balance in the lives of workers;
  • rolling out the Canada Housing Benefit across the country;
  • promoting retirement security; and
  • designing an income security system, using the CERB as the new income floor, that ensures no individual or family lives with an income under this benchmark.