Four day week with 100% pay: Derry firm sees ‘great benefits’

Two pioneering local businesses have spoken of their experiences of introducing a four-day work week with staff working 80% of the hours for 100% pay.

By Brendan McDaid
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 4:49 pm

Leading Derry-based independent accident management company, CRASH services, and JMK Solicitors, Personal Injury Specialists with offices in Belfast, Newry and a soon to open in Derry, were two of the first businesses here to introduce a 4-day work week for their teams, with no impact on pay in 2020.

Staff at JMK Solicitors and CRASH Services now work 80% of the time for 100% pay and two years into the project they have seen great benefits in terms of employee wellbeing as well as customer and client satisfaction.

Jonathan McKeown, CEO at CRASH and chairman at JMK Solicitors, said: “We have over 150 employees across both businesses, who our customers and clients rely on in a time of crisis. We wanted to ensure they have the right work-life balance to be able to perform at their best in stressful situations. When we launched the two-year research project in summer 2018, there was real excitement within the team. We have been in operation at CRASH for over 25 years, and over 18 years with JMK and we wanted to take a leading role in offering our employees the gift of time, which is the greatest gift we and any employer can give to their team.

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Launching the four day in 2020 (from left to right) are Jonathan McKeown, CEO and Michelle Murphy, HR & Operations Manager at Crash.

“Staff wellbeing has also never been as important than the last few years, and especially with the challenges that COVID-19 brought, we knew that having more free time to spend with family and friends is something employees want more of and benefit from in many ways.”

Michelle Murphy Head of Operations & HR at CRASH Services and JMK Solicitors said: “Flexibility, homeworking and utilising technology were already a mainstay of our working practices, so we were able to adapt quickly to the challenging environment in 2020 and the introduction of the 4-day work week. When we first launched this project in 2018, we knew there was a lot of preparation to do before we could implement the new working patterns. We set our teams the task of reviewing every working practice, encouraging every person to look at their individual role and ask what was inefficient. This has been an insightful process and they have eliminated some parts, streamlined other processes and used technology to make time savings.

“These suggestions were then documented before being reviewed by the management team with the vast majority of the recommendations being implemented.

“This project was not necessarily about reducing everyone to a four-day week. It might suit others to work their hours over five shorter days and if that’s what a staff member wants, we will try to accommodate them,” Michelle concluded.

Llaunching the four day week on full pay initiative back in 2020 Maurece Hutchinson, MD, Olivia Meehan, Legal Services Director, Michelle Murphy, HR & Operations Manager, Jonathan McKeown, Chair, JMK.

The staff at both CRASH Services and JMK Solicitors have celebrated two years of the continued success of the programme in 2022. Jonathan said: “We have always had very low levels of staff turnover but we never want to be complacent. We feel that with increased automation, reduced hours will be considered by more employers, particularly in the current climate where it is imperative for many businesses to find out expedient ways to carry out work. We wanted to take a leading role and are happy to share our experiences with others.”