Icon Supports 5 Day Work Week

June 19, 2024

Icon is supporting the push for a five-day work week on all construction projects across Australia and New Zealand.


The move will see Icon take a step forward to advocate change and build on industry-wide work led by the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce (CICT) and the Australian Constructors Association (ACA).


The five-day work week initiative will be presented by Icon on every tender submitted to exhibit a commitment to stronger wellbeing for construction workers across Australia and New Zealand.


The initiative aims to retain and attract skilled people and directly address significant industry concerns around mental health and personal wellbeing, with the five-day work week helping recruit a more diverse workforce by providing a better work-life balance.


Moving forward, Icon will present two program options for every tender – one with a strict five-day working week capped at a maximum of 50 hours for employees, alongside a tender pitched with the industry-standard six-day working week.


Under Icon’s five-day work week project schedule, the operational period would be Monday to Friday, with the site being shut on Saturday and Sunday to provide employees an opportunity to recuperate and return to work re-energised.


To complement the tender submissions, Icon will be engaging with clients and stakeholders to outline the projected mental health, personal wellbeing, safety and productivity benefits of the five-day work week.


Icon Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Evan Byrne said “Australia’s construction sector is  facing immense market pressures with 100,000-plus additional workers required in the next 12 months to meet the pipeline of post-COVID stimulus and infrastructure projects. Given the inevitability of a dearth of skilled labour for the sector, we believe the time for action is now.


“Our industry is a vibrant contributor to the Australian economy, driving investment, growth and jobs but we recognise there are significant personal costs for many people. The gravity of the problem in seeking to retain and attract people cannot be ignored and we believe the five-day work week opens up the opportunity for our people to prioritise personal wellbeing, family time or community engagement – all things that we value at Icon.


“We understand the significance of this commitment and haven’t taken this decision lightly, but we feel it is necessary to address the dire statistics of how this industry is impacting our people.


“On our 70 live construction sites across Australia and New Zealand, we feel it is our responsibility to treat mental health and wellbeing with the same importance as physical safety. While the industry has more to do, a dedicated and sustained focus on workplace safety has delivered a step-change in safety standards and reduced fatality rates across the sector.


“We are the first to acknowledge that the five-day work week won’t fix everyone’s problems overnight, but this is about taking a step forward for the greater good of our people now and in the future.”


Icon’s five-day work week commitment builds on industry-wide work to proactively address some of the serious issues facing the sector and its 1.2 million workers. A BIS Oxford Economics report estimates the cost of doing nothing for the sector is $7.98 billion.


The CICT has been advocating reforms, with the ACA supporting companies taking the initiative to promote change. A number of companies are considering the best way to move towards a five-day work week, with a pilot program completed last year involving the NSW Government, the University of NSW and NSW construction firm, Roberts Co on two projects in Sydney.


The CICT is developing a new Culture Standard for the construction sector that creates a healthier environment for our people, and delivers better outcomes for their families, and the economy.


Icon wants to build on this work and take the next step by introducing the option for a five-day work week on every project, everywhere. While a five-day working week could potentially add to the construction time and costs for clients, Mr Byrne said Icon is prepared to challenge clients about the potential for the new approach to deliver strong outcomes for the business, the workforce and the wider community.


Mr Byrne said “We are challenging ourselves to build a better workplace for our people, and in doing so hope to challenge our clients, our people and the rest of the sector.


“This move represents a change in mindset and makes it clear to our people we value what they do and we will work harder to support sustainable careers within our business. We’d encourage other players in the sector to follow suit. I’m confident it will fuel a wider conversation across the industry, which is another benefit of Icon’s approach.”

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