Four-day work week pilot to launch in UK after trial success

Four-day work week pilot to launch in UK after trial success

Following the success of the largest UK public sector trial of a four-day work week, campaigners are preparing to launch a new pilot.

Companies can sign up to the initiative for a November start, with results set to be presented to the government in the summer of 2025.

This comes as the largest UK public sector trial of the four-day work week led to quicker planning decisions, faster benefits processing and quicker call answering.

South Cambridgeshire district council trialled the shorter working week from January 2023 to March 2024. Analysis of productivity by academics at the universities of Cambridge and Salford found:

  • Performance was maintained or improved in 22 of 24 areas assessed
  • Efficiencies and innovations continue to be delivered
  • Staff turnover has reduced by 39%, substantially reducing recruitment demands
  • Around 15% more major planning application decisions were completed within the correct timescale.

Additionally, the findings suggest the trial led to an annual net cost saving of £371,500 for the council.

However, some areas did not improve. For example, rent collection for council housing worsened slightly – but this was attributed to the cost of living crisis. The speed with which empty council houses were re-let also fell slightly, from 28 to 30 days on average.

The results were adjusted to consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four-day work week is ‘no loss’

The new pilot will be run by the UK’s 4 Day Week Campaign, as well as flexible working consultancy Timewise.

Joe Ryle, director of the campaign group, said the results showed that ‘a four-day week with no loss of pay absolutely can succeed in a local government setting’.

‘With a more sympathetic Labour government now in place, there is a huge opportunity for councils and organisations across the public sector to start planning for a four-day working week,’ he said.

There was no specific Labour pledge to introduce or explore a four-day working week. Yet many cabinet members have shown support in the past, such as deputy prime minister Angela Rayner. Last year, she urged businesses to consider the results of the first UK pilot.

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