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Britain’s biggest charity the Wellcome Trust drops plans for a four-day working week

Britain’s biggest charity the Wellcome Trust drops plans for a four-day working week

  • Wellcome Trust have scrapped their plans for a four-day working week
  • It had been touted as a way to boost productivity and employee well-being
  • But their director of policy announced on Friday the autumn trial was off 
  • Science based research charity has an investment portfolio worth £25.9 billion 

Britain’s biggest charity has dropped plans to give its workers a four-day week with no reduction in pay.

The science research foundation, which has an investment portfolio of £26 billion, had planned to trial the new schedule in autumn but told their workers on Friday it would no longer happen.

Those who back a four-day week claim it helps to boost productivity and gives employees a greater feeling of well-being.

However, the charity – which rivals the colossal Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – decided the logistics of the change would have been too difficult to manage. 

The Wellcome Trust’s massive headquarters on Euston Road in central London

Ed Whiting, Wellcome’s Director of Policy and Chief of Staff, said: ‘After extensive internal consultation on whether we should trial the four-day week, we have concluded that it is too operationally complex to implement.

‘We have learnt a lot through our consultation process and, although we not be trialling a four-day week, we remain committed to maximising the impact Wellcome can make in the world through supporting the wellbeing and productivity of our staff.’

At the beginning of the year Whiting had stated his high hopes for the four-day working week, the Guardian reported he said it would bring ‘a healthier workforce, a reduction in sickness absence and improved sense of work-life balance.’


The Wellcome Trust has a colossal investment portfolio of £25.9 billion in various science based projects. 

Working with the NHS and government, it has established clinical research facilities around the country. 

Behind its funding came the VSV-EBOV vaccine for Ebola vaccine, and a potential cure for Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness.

While they also funded Cambridge University researchers who managed to grow an embryo for 13 days in a laboratory setting.

Despite, this other researchers have found that workers can be adversely affected by a shorter working week.

Some people find the lack of time to complete tasks puts them under greater pressure, the Guardian reported.

In addition most of the firms who have gone ahead with the radical change are smaller and therefore the changes are not as wide reaching. 

Wellcome has provided research for which facilitated a vaccine for Ebola and a potential cure for three tropical diseases.

While its donations also helped scientists discover how to make embryos survive in a laboratory setting for two weeks.  

They have bankrolled trials for a new method of controlling the Zika virus and projects on the link between the immune system and cancer.

And more money has been pledged to try and find an effective treatment for malaria and alternatives to chemotherapy.