Four-day week for divorced parents under review, says French PM

The idea could apply to parents who share custody of children

A view of someone moving wooden blocks to read a ‘4’ day work week instead of ‘5’
The PM is considering allowing divorced parents to work a four-day week
Published Last updated

Divorced parents could soon be able to reduce their standard working hours to four days per week when it is ‘their turn’ to look after their children, the French PM has said.

Gabriel Attal, writing in La Tribune Dimanche, said he was considering options including reducing weekly hours to four days, four and a half days, or ‘differentiated’ weeks depending on when the parent was looking after the children (for example, if custody is shared and each parent takes turns).

The options could also apply to other parents who have complex or difficult parenting situations.

Mr Attal has already experimented with allowing employees to work a four-day week (without reducing their overall hours) in his offices.

He is set to consider the options during a governmental seminar about work on March 27. The PM had already mentioned he was considering the idea in January.

The four-day work week campaign

It comes after a poll in February (2024) found that 77% of working people in France would be in favour of a four-day working week without reducing their overall working hours.

As of February 2023, 5% of companies in France said they were trying out the four-day work week.

Read more: How France learned to embrace the four-day week

The idea is becoming more popular worldwide, and not only for parents; one trial in the UK for 3,000 private sector employees (whether parents or not) led to a 71% reduction in burnout and a 65% fall in the number of sick days taken by staff.

Similarly, of companies that took part, 89% were still operating the timetable a year later.

There is even a global campaign group for the idea, called 4-Day Week Global. Founded in 2019, the group has organised four-day-week pilot programmes across the world, including in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

It says its mission is to “reshape the way we think about work, by moving the conversation away from hours, and onto productivity and output”.

Read also

French people still work less than other Europeans
Explainer: How France’s 35-hour week works in practice