Four-day work week

South Cambridgeshire Council to trial four-day working week in UK first

South Cambridgeshire District Council are set to become the first local authority in the UK to trial a four-day working week for their office-based staff.

The trial would start from January and last for three months with the approximately 470-strong workforce taking part, being given full compensation for a 30-hour week.

The Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cllr Bridget Smith, said: “The trial would be all about seeing if a four-day week has the same positive impact on productivity, staff wellbeing and recruitment in Local Government, as seen elsewhere. As a Council we are leading the way on this; it could be truly ground-breaking for local councils nationally.

Staff retention is one of the driving forces behind the new trial with the local authority detailing how it has only been able to fill around eight of every 10 vacancies for more than a year.

The staff turnover has been described as “disruptive to services for residents” as well as more costly with agency staff costing the authority more than £2m a year, whilst permanent staff are estimated to cost only half that per annum.

In order to monitor the efficacy of the initiative, the authority will investigate the speed of planning applications, call answering times, how long it takes to process council rent collections and benefit claims, as well as examining if the changes have made a perceivable impact on staff wellbeing and retention.

“Cllr Bridget Smith added: “Not only could it help with the wellbeing and retention of our existing staff, but I am hugely keen that we open ourselves up as an employer to a more diverse workforce.”

The 4 Day Week Campaign launched a UK trial spanning 70 organisations and around 3,300 staff back in the June of this year – additional trials are also set to begin in several countries in the Commonwealth including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as a programme in the United States of America.

Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, Joe Ryle, said: “The decision by South Cambridgeshire District Council to outline plans to become the first ever UK local authority to trial a four-day week is historic and should be applauded.

“This move could benefit thousands of workers, improve productivity, and help to tackle the job recruitment crisis in Local Government. We hope this trial, if approved, results in many more councils across the country embracing the four-day week.”

The official launch of the trial is subject to approval from South Cambridge District Council cabinet members on the 12th of September. If approved, the Council’s Employment and Staffing Committee will be issued reports in order to inform any potential recommendations at the end of the three-month trial.

More information on the trial is available here.

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