William Eichler 05 September 2022

Council to trial four-day week

Council to trial four-day week image
Image: fizkes/Shutterstock.com.

A council in South Cambridgeshire is planning to begin a three-month trial of a four-day week in order to attract new staff.

South Cambridgeshire District Council has struggled to fill all of its vacant positions. For more than a year, it has only been able to fill around eight out of every 10 of its vacancies.

These recruitment difficulties have led the local authority to consider a four-day week in the hope that this would make the council more attractive to prospective employees.

A four-day week is when people work one less day per week but still get paid the same salary.

If cabinet members agree to the trial, which would take place between January and March next year, the council will closely monitor what impact it has on services for residents and businesses.

The 4 Day Week Campaign started a trial involving about 70 companies in the UK back in June this year. That trial covers around 3,300 employees. There are also trials either underway or soon to be started in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Research from Henley Business School, cited by the council, shows that those organisations offering a four-day week benefit from an improved ability to attract and retain talent.

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. We only filled around half our vacancies during the first few months of this year and using temporary agency staff in these office roles costs us more than £2m a year. We know that if we instead filled those roles permanently, it would only cost around £1m a year.

‘As we look for solutions to these issues, these proposals suggest a robust, evidence-based trial for three months. Of course, it must be a trial that works for our residents and businesses too.’

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