New Zealand should be first to introduce 4-day working week - employer

A New Zealand employer says we should be the first country in the world to introduce a four-day working week - but warns our legislation "isn't fit for purpose".

At the start of this year, New Zealand trust company Perpetual Guardian trialled a four-day working week while paying its employees for five days. After the successful trial the company made the four-day week the new norm.

Appearing on The AM Show on Tuesday, Perpetual Guardian managing director Andrew Barnes said the results showed the scheme is "the best thing to do".

"What we're trying to do is allow people to be the best they can be in the office and outside the office," he told host Duncan Garner.

"Our stress levels went down and people's perception of being able to work and handle the workload also improved.

Productivity went up by 20 percent and costs fell - while the time staff spent on things like browsing the internet went down 35 percent.

Mr Barnes wants us to go further and lead the world in terms of employment conditions. He's set up a website,, to encourage this progress.

"Why shouldn't New Zealand be the first country in the world to introduce absolute flexible working, to get everybody down to a four-day week?" he asks.

But there have been problems making the four-day week work with existing New Zealand employment law, which might need to be revised.

"The Employment Relations Act is actually defined in terms of hours in the office, time of start, time of finish. So what we've had to do is give you a normal contract that says you should work five days, and we gift you a day off," he says.

"Our legislation isn't fit for purpose. It encourages companies to put employees on contracts, the gig economy if you will, and to use people on contact."

Ultimately, he sees his plan as the start of a world-wide trend and urges other New Zealand business owners to give it a go.

"The biggest resistance is from leaders. We all look at this and say no it wouldn't couldn't possibly work," he says.

"Just try it. What's the worst that can happen?"