Would You Take a 20% Pay Cut to enjoy a Four Day Work Week?

Readers share their thoughts!

Winning Entry - Leong Wai Kheng Melissa, People’s Association

“Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward,” says writer John Colanzi. Working adult soften miss the beauty of this statement, losing sight that time does not necessarily equate to efficiency. A person working seven days a week might not produce better quality work than someone focused on the task for four days. Take the time to smell the roses. One should strive to have work-life balance, working on yourself first before having the energy to work on other aspects of your life. So, take 20% of my pay if you may! Who knows, with the renewed energy, I might soon be slated for promotion!

Congratulations Melissa for sharing your views with us. Here’s $100 in Kinokuniya vouchers so you can kick back and relax with a novel, some magazines, or even a DVD. No need for a pay cut to enjoy life, in this case!


If we work like we’re going on holiday on Fridays, we could get all our work done in four days. It takes concentration, dedication and zero tolerance to distractions. The reward is an extra 52 days off a year. To do this, I would make a reasonable list daily and work through it methodically. I would go for a movie, visit the park with my kids or take up a new hobby.

Lynna Tan, BCA

Both money and time are valuable means to a more comfortable and fulfilled life. But as a middle-aged mother, my perspective has changed over the years. I don’t remember much of my childhood as my parents were busy but I remember the times my mom spent a rare evening with me. Our family will always remember the experiences shared with us. Would I sacrifice 20% of my pay for a day off? Yes. Will I be poorer for it? Financially yes but it will be worth it.

Eunice Sui, MCYS

Congratulations, Lynna and Eunice! You've each won $30 in shopping vouchers.

Additional Submissions

Yes of course! In the long run, time is NOT money, and no matter how much money I earn, I can never replace lost time. So in conclusion, time is a precious commodity in relation to money.

A 4-day work week, especially if you couple it with flexi-arrangement at work where you’re able to co-ordinate with colleagues on day-offs, would promote a better work-life balance for EVERYONE. With a shorter work week, we’re forced to be more efficient to make do with the lesser time spent at work (I do not believe that shorter work weeks equate lighter work loads) so maybe we’ll be forced to be MORE PRODUCTIVE to ensure that we don’t need to be back to clear the backlogs on the day off.

Ng Hui Peng, ICA

I will be able to accept this but only if the Civil Service allows us to work part-time or another job without the need to seek approval to do so. The four-day work week will allow officers more time to gain extra income for the 20% loss and also earn greater work experiences that they can contribute back to the Civil Service.

Jonalis Kamis, CSC

Definitely a YES for me. As a working mother spending 8.30 - 6.00pm every Monday to Friday at work is hectic for me. Reaching home at 7.00pm to prepare dinner and doing house chores leaves me with less quality time with my children and myself. Saturdays and Sundays are spent sending them for enrichment classes, attending wedding functions etc. and before you can recharge, it’s Monday again.

With one extra day available during weekdays, I'll be home for my children when they are back from school. This also gives me more time to plan my schedule and complete my own tasks.

I’m sure my children will be glad to see me at home when they’re back from school even if it's just for a day.

Zuraidah Binte Ismail, NEA

I think most young and single working adults like me will take a pay cut.

7 days a week, 5 days for work, 1 day for friends and 1 day for family. There's no time left to go out more often to search for that elusive life partner!

So cut our pay, but give us an extra day to have a more "happening" lifestyle and also increase our chances of getting happily hitched. I think most of us will gladly accept this trade-off in order to lead a more meaningful and enjoyable life!

Calvin Ng Li Wei, LTA

I would take the a pay cut as I value work-life balance. Quality of life is not measured only by the output of one’s work but also time set aside for loved ones and some private time for oneself.

Also, length of time spent at work does not reflect the quality of work produced. Thus, one can still be productive during the four days of work.

Cheerios to four-day work week!

Lee Li Xin, MCYS

YES, I agree 100% with this suggestion. You must learn how to plan your work well, think wisely and work smart and recognise your strengths and weaknesses. Adopt positive thinking, I am sure you will stay healthy and happy. After all money is not everything. BRAVO!

Sharifah Mohd Shah, HPB

I would definitely take a 20% pay cut to enjoy a four-day work week. If life is all about work, wouldn't it be meaningless? Many people work like robots to earn big bucks, but what is the use of earning so much but not have the time to spend the hard-earned money?

I will exchange 20% of my pay to enjoy a four-day work week because I treasure family time. Spending time with the family is heart-warming.

In life, it's not just about working hard. It's also about playing hard too! We have to ensure that we maintain work-life balance and pay attention to our health.

Ho Xin Hui Valentia

Yes I will take up the scheme even if there is a pay cut but only if the other benefits (annual leave, medical, dental, bonus, increment, etc.) are not affected.

I am a working mother with no domestic help. My children are over 12 years old so I am not entitled to Child Care Leave and Child Sick Leave. My 14 days leave per year is used up very quickly and at the end of the year, I am lucky if I am still left with a few days to go for a short holiday with my family. After a five-day work week, weekends are spent doing housework accumulated from weekdays.

As such, a four-day work week will help as I will have more time for my family and myself.

Jolyn Lim, NEA

Yes I definitely would! I will use the extra time available to pursue personal aspirations, be more active as a global citizen in doing my part in ‘PSR’ (personal social responsibility) as well as spending time with family and friends. The 20% pay cut is a small price to pay for living a more meaningful and fulfilled life!

Janice Lua, MDA

I will gladly take it but my key concern is whether my workload will be cut by 20% as well, because I doubt that it would. I understand that during grading exercises, “commitment” is demonstrated in part by hours worked. Perhaps they can evaluate effective management for supervisors, including how they promote work-life balance and raise productivity.

Life is not all about work and national success is not just about economic growth. Singapore's working environment obscures that. Singapore has one of the more workaholic cultures around, with 50 hour work weeks being considered “good work life balance”. It’s making my job as a Marriage and Parenthood policy officer quite difficult, because inherently, a workaholic environment is correlated with lower birth rates. Even in Norway, cities have lower TFR than suburbs and East Asian developed countries are doing as poorly or worse than us. We need a mindset change.

Chelsea Wong, NPTD

"But if you can create an honorable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them and you earn a living from it, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want." - Anita Roddick

Ideally I would like to be able to complete my current workload more efficiently and within a shorter time frame at the same pay. As the quote points out, I want to be able to put my skills acquired over the years to “earn a living”.

My children are growing up really quickly and I want to be a part of their expanding world and still have time for myself so yes I will take a pay cut for a four-day work week.

Makeswary Periasamy (aka Mages), NLB


As enticing as it sounds, our pay just isn’t enough to keep up with inflation to cope with a 20% cut. Parents: Scrap the overseas trip. Kids: We’re going to East Coast Park for the holidays. Married couples: You’re moving back to your parents’. To spend the day out, we would incur extra spending. A teaspoon of pay cut and a ladle of expenditure makes an age-old recipe for disaster.

Anwar Bin Asger Ali, SPF

I want more pay so I’ve more money to shop with. I enjoy the challenge and can use my vacation leave if I need a break. As Prince Henry said in Henry IV (Part I): “If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work.” And yes, this applies even if three days of every week were “playing holidays” too.

Nazeera Ebrahim, ICA

I’m a recent graduate bursting with energy and wanting to channel it to doing something worthwhile. A four-day week is unacceptable as I’ve so much to contribute to. Enjoyment is often tied to indulgence, which requires money. I can’t afford to be indulgent two days a week let alone three. Anyone happy to accept a shorter work week must be rich, self-indulgent and probably not too dedicated to the job. If they believed in their job’s value to society, they wouldn’t dare work any less hard than the people whose activity they are regulating or than those they’re protecting. My work is important to me. It’s not a form of entertainment.

Sudhanshu Ahuja, MAS

Congratulations, Anwar, Nazeera and Sudhanshu! You've each won $30 in shopping vouchers.

Additional Submissions

20% cut? No way! With the amount of workload we have, we don't even have enough time to complete our work now. Also, we can't afford a pay cut because the cost of living is way too high. I think what we need is a more 'homely' working environment so we do not feel the need to stay home and rest.

Jayshree S, HDB

No! On the contrary, I think our pay should be increased instead. The proposition to reduce one’s pay by 20% in correspondence to a 20% cut in the work week might sound logical at first sight, but this assumes that the work would be reduced by 20% as well. This is probably a risky assumption to make :p

Singaporeans have become more demanding, and are ever ready to vocalise these demands on the public service particularly through Facebook and Twitter. Traditional methods might no longer be as useful, and public service officers increasingly have to employ novel ways of seeing things, which in turn, requires more time and also more brainpower. Perhaps 8 hours a day, 5 days a week isn’t enough. Much less 8 hours 4 days a week.

Let’s not use time as the sole measure of the expected returns of investment i.e., our salaries but also consider the other returns, such as our outputs, innovative ideas, solutions to policy puzzles, building the public service culture in our own ways, making Singapore a greater place to live in (pardon the cliché here!).

In short, reducing time spent in the office doesn’t necessarily equate to less time spent on work. So, why should one’s salary be reduced for spending less time in the cubicle?

Benedict Ho, MCYS

Heavens, no!! We should be incentivised to be more productive to complete what we normally do in 5 days within 4 days!

Emily Wee, CSC

I would not take a 20% pay cut just to enjoy a four-day work week.

Personally, Saturdays and Sundays are sufficient for me to enjoy time together with my family and also enough to recharge my energy for the next working week. Weekends are precious & worth looking forward to because they are short. It is also a form of motivation to keep you working hard during office hours. We are also entitled to annual leave. We can use them occasionally if you need slightly longer breaks.

Besides, with recent inflation, getting a pay cut is not an option for me and especially not for those who have financial commitments to family and housing etc.

Kua Soon Zhen, SLA

No, because I need the pay to help finance my current lifestyle and pay for monthly utility bills and household expenses.

I work a five-day week and it includes doing shift work on weekdays and weekends. This means my off-days might fall on a Monday or Friday on alternate weeks when I work on a Saturday or Sunday. Despite this, I have a full and active life outside of the office, which incorporates 5 - 6 days of exercise a week, weekly baking and cooking classes, spending time at home with my elderly parents, meeting up with friends for birthdays/baby showers/house-warmings/weddings etc. and doing the household chores.

I think it doesn’t really matter how much or how little time you have outside of work, it is up to the individual to plan and manage their time efficiently and productively. I find it useful to have a weekly to-do list of items that you prioritise to complete in order of importance or urgency.

A four-day work week for an entire nation will probably be bad for the economy as less sales are made and therefore less profits are generated.

Sharon Teng, NLB

I would not! Even if I am willing to take a pay cut in exchange for a four-day work week, I may still end up having to work on some weekends, which defeats the purpose of a shorter work week or a longer weekend. Also, if I were to take a 20% pay cut, does that mean my workload will be reduced by 20% too? I think that is highly unlikely.

On a positive note, it’s actually quite fun to look forward to Fridays after working hard for four days!

Diana Sim, HPB

Not if it cannot be implemented across the nation. What is a weekend or holiday without your loved ones to spend it with you? And who said you can’t ENJOY your five-day work week?

Elita Lawalata, IDA

A 20% pay cut in exchange for a four-day work week seems like a reasonable incentive for a dedicated workaholic like me. With a three-day weekend, I can have more time to smell the roses. On second thought, a shorter work week does not mean a decrease in workload. I must work harder and longer during the four working days to complete my work. Failure to do so may resulted in job loss.

The fear of job loss can be a source of great stress, which in turn temporarily powers an explosive work performance. However, prolonged exposure to stress can lead to stress-related diseases. Nothing matters without good health! How can I enjoy the three-day weekend if I am plagued with stress-related illnesses? I'd rather slow my pace down and get the same amount of work done in five working days.

Jasmine Ng, PA

Unfortunately, my answer would be no. I firmly believe that it is only an option for certain groups of people.

As a front line service staff who has heavy administrative duties, I am already working outside of working hours to complete my work. This suggestion would only reduce our income but not our workload. Urgent matters are still urgent, items requiring our immediate attention will still require a quick response.

Jessica Ng, SSC

For me, the answer is no. I am still young and have much to accomplish and attain. Perhaps we can retain a 5 day work week, but shorten the hours at work. This way, those with children can spend more time with them, rather than reaching home late in the evenings.

Dave Gan, NHB

Ask me if I am willing to forgo a fifth of my salary for a four-day work week and I will respond with a resounding ‘Yes’! The idea of having a long weekend or a mid-week break is an extremely appealing one, especially for people who value personal time and a flexible work schedule. However, the economic considerations of life cannot be ignored.

Given my current salary and the cost of living in Singapore, being on the scheme would entail a substantial drop in material living standards. Would such a sacrifice be worthwhile? Firstly, will my actual workload be decreased? There is no point being on a four-day work week when my job requires five days plus overtime to finish. Secondly, will management be given sufficient resources to hire more people? If not, will they be given lower performance targets to cope with the drop in manpower? Supervisors would understandably not be keen to let their staff convert to a four-day work week if it means putting in even more hours to finish their subordinates’ work. Finally, will I be appraised differently from someone who works a five-day week? Attempting to rank workers on two different schemes would be like trying to compare apples with oranges.

Should the answer to any of the questions above be ‘No’, then I’m afraid the four-day work week will no longer seem as alluring to me. But then again, we too often let our hearts guide our decisions. The thought of sleeping in on a Monday morning seems mighty tempting to me right now...

Han Li Chou Jamie, NHB

Next, on Your Say...

Engaging the public - overrated or necessary?
Involving the public will deliver more effective policies and services, but may also require us to put in more time and resources. Is it worth it? Tell us what you think!

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The best entry will win an attractive prize worth up to $100! All other published entries will win shopping vouchers worth $30 each. Please include your name, agency email address, agency and contact number. All entries should reach us by November 27, 2011.

    Nov 8, 2011
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