Ben & Jerry's maker Unilever is offering a 4-day working week at full pay to its New Zealand staff — and all its 150,000 worldwide employees could be next

  • Unilever is offering its New Zealand staff a four-day working week at their normal full pay.
  • The year-long trial will give employees flexibility in their work-life balance and make the company more productive, Unilever said.
  • New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern has supported a four-day week, saying it would be good for domestic tourism.
  • The success of the Unilever trial could determine whether the company rolls it out to its 150,000 global employees.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Consumer goods giant Unilever is offering all 81 of its New Zealand workers a four-day week – and they don't have to take a pay cut.

Staff will retain their full salaries while working 80% of their usual contracted hours. The new structure will give them more flexibility to decide when and how they work best, Unilever said in a press release Tuesday.

The trial starts December 7 and will last a year.

Unilever is behind brands including Ben & Jerry's, Magnum, and Vaseline.

The move will improve employees' mental and physical wellbeing, Nick Bangs, the company's New Zealand managing director, said.

It will also make the company more productive, he added.

"Our goal is to measure performance on output, not time," Bangs said. "We believe the old ways of working are outdated and no longer fit for purpose."

The growing momentum for a four-day working is "validation of the catalytic role COVID-19 has played in shaking up standard working practices," he said.

The country's prime minister Jacinda Ardern has been one of the driving forces behind a four-day working week, saying it could boost domestic tourism as well as aid New Zealand's recovery from COVID-19.

Read more: A Unilever exec reveals how the company will reach $1.1B in plant based sales by 2027

Unilever drew inspiration from New Zealand estate planning firm Perpetual Guardian, which rolled out a four-day week to all its 240 staff in 2018.

Unilever will share the trial's outcomes with other New Zealand businesses, and said it hopes they will reflect on their own ways of working.

The current trial is only for New Zealand staff, but Unilever said the trial could determine whether the company looks into rolling out the initiative to its 150,000 employees globally.

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