Offering a nine-day fortnight to employees can significantly improve flexibility and work-life balance, says Kim Siddall, national vice-president of account management of mid- and large-sized markets at People Corporation.

The concept of a nine-day fortnight, which involves condensing the regular workweek by working five days one week and four days the next, has started to gain popularity among employers, especially within unions. Employees can either make up the hours they’ll miss within those nine days or take a small pay cut, typically around 10 per cent.

In March, the union representing employees at Burnaby Public Library in Burnaby, B.C. ratified a three-year collective agreement that includes a nine-day fortnight.

Read: Burnaby Public Library, CUPE agreement includes flexible work improvements

The main benefit of this arrangement is having an extra day off every second week while maintaining status as a full-time employee. “A nine-day fortnight probably feels more accessible and familiar to certain employers than the four-day workweek because of ‘earned days off’ offered by some employers or employers in markets where they’re competing with others who are offering [earned days off],” says Siddall.

She believes the fortnight concept is a good way to incorporate flexible work arrangements and can be a popular recruitment tool. “Compressed workweeks like a nine-day fortnight tend to be very popular with employees because they offer flexibility and work-life balance to help with managing the many [aspects] of their lives. It can also reduce time off work for personal appointments, as those appointments can be moved to the 10th day.”

For employees who commute to work, the fortnight option can also allow them to move their commute to off-peak times, adds Siddall. With extended hours, they’re no longer stuck in the busy nine-to-five schedule.

However, she notes there are some disadvantages to implementing a nine-day fortnight, including possible burnout. And because a compressed workweek isn’t feasible for every role within an organization, it can create inequity. “It can be tiring for employees who are working longer days and it can be more demanding from a production standpoint. It might also be more challenging for teams to keep track of compared to a four-day workweek, where the same people are off the same day of the week each week.”

Read: Survey finds four-day workweek gaining mainstream momentum with Canadian employers