Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, co-leaders of the Green Party, have called for "bold new ideas" to address increasing pressures on the modern workforce. In particular, the Brighton Pavillion MP and Bartley said an elongated three-day weekend could boost productivity.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme on Sunday, Bartley said technological advances and wealth creation were creating greater inequality. Lucas echoed his sentiments and said Britain needed to ask itself "what kind of country" it wanted to be.

She said: "I think there's a lot of evidence that suggests that when people are exhausted their productivity goes down."

Lucas said a growing economy comes at a cost to workers and that as a society Britain needed to give consideration to that cost. She said: "What we're suggesting here is that we are now the sixth-largest economy in the world, people are working ever more hours, getting ever more stressed, getting ever more ill health, mental health problems as well.

"What we want to do is take a step back and think 'what is the purpose of the economy? What kind of country do we want to be?'"

She added: "Do we really want a future where all of us are just trying to work even harder so we're bringing our work with us every time we go home in the evenings, at the weekends?"

Though the Green Party's policy proposal may seem a little outlandish, the concept of a shorter working week to boost productivity has long been touted as a means of boosting productivity among workers. It was revealed last year by an experiment in Sweden that six-hour working days improved productivity and lead to a happier workforce in some sectors of the economy.

The experiment at a retirement home in Gothenburg saw that nurses who had worked six-hour days for a year were 20% happier. The nurses also took half the amount of time off work sick as those in the control group.

Also last year a survey by tool and equipment hire company HSS Hire revealed that office workers said they were only productive for three days a week, with issues such as an overly warm office and a bad night's sleep impacting on efficiency levels.

Six out of 10 bosses also apparently agree that cutting hours could lead to greater efficiency, it was reported by the Telegraph last year.

Caroline Lucas
Caroline Lucas said Britain needed to consider the cost of a growing economy to workersGetty