Closing the gender pay gap
Paid and unpaid work is currently unequally distributed. The five-day-week model we currently abide by encourages women to take up caring responsibilities after they have children, hampering their career progression and leading to disparities in earnings. Mothers who then return to work are often penalised with lower paid and lower status roles as result of often needing to work fewer hours.
The fact that the gender pay gap is already in place before parents have children only reinforces the need for the father to return to work full-time rather than the mother due to the financial equation of earning more money.
A four day week could help redistribute paid and unpaid work between men and women, allowing for both parents to be able to commit to one day of childcare without taking a pay cut and, at the same time, staying on the same level as their colleagues. This would allow for much more autonomy for mothers in the decision of returning to work.
With a four day week, available employment could be spread out to reduce unemployment and underemployment. More positions could become available to cover help for the hours which are no longer worked in a five hour week. If, for instance, companies need someone to monitor incoming calls on a Friday but the person who normally works that shift now only works Monday-Thursday, hiring more staff will be a suitable answer.
A four day week could help save our environment. It reduces CO2 emissions from less commuting as well as energy usage in offices. An study in the US State of Utah in 2008 showed that by working a four day week for an entire month reduced the amount of CO2 emitted from commuting and office energy by 12,000 metric tons. This was the case for 17,000 of the states employees, imagine the benefits if it was universal.